Brown Rowers Take Second at Easterns

May 19, 2003

Maybe the law of averages was against the Brown Oarswomen after years of success. Whatever the reason, the Brown Varsity women saw their five year winning streak snapped by an inspired Radcliffe crew yesterday at the Championship Regatta of the Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges.

It was the first victory for Radcliffe head coach Liz O'Leary in the varsity event since 1989 and it enabled Radcliffe to also win the Charles Willing Team Trophy by one point over Brown (61-60). Radcliffe piled up points in lightweight events, which Brown did not enter.

Up until the race it had been a great day for the Brown women, coached by John and Phoebe Murphy.

Four Brown crews won their morning heats on the Cooper River Reservoir by open water-the second novice four did not have to race-and the Bears seemed poised to dominate the regatta as they had done in five of the previous six years.

The successes mounted in the afternoon. The novice four won their race. Then, the first novice eight won by 17 seconds over Princeton. The Brown open four took second place to Yale, and the second varsity was a surprise winner in its grand finals, turning the tables on Princeton, which had won during the regular season.

The second varsity eight had been a work in progress for John Murphy during the entire season. The lineup in that boat changed in every race and no one rowed in the same seat all season. The one constant was Abby Thomas, who stroked the crew to victory yesterday and had stroked the second varsity to victory in the two previous years.

The Brown women's varsity crew had rowed the fastest time in the varsity morning heats and was favored to make it six in a row in that event. But Princeton jumped out to an early lead with Radcliffe second and Brown never able to get out of third place. At the finish , it was Radcliffe by a length over Princeton and Brown another half length back.

"We didn't have a lot of excuses. We just let it get out of hand," John Murphy said. "All credit is due to the Radcliffe and Princeton crews. They both rowed exceptional races."

Despite the loss in the varsity race, John Murphy was confident his team will be picked to compete for the NCAA Team Championship, May 30-June 1 in Indianapolis, IN. The selection committee will meet tomorrow.

story courtesy of Dave Phillips