BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The 2011-12 rowing seasons are quickly approaching as the Lehigh men’s squad will compete in the Head of the Charles this coming weekend while both the women and men will row in the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta next Saturday (Oct. 29). Head coach Brian Conley enters his second season at the helm, looking to improve upon last year’s finish which saw the women nearly double the previous year’s point total at the Patriot League Championships.
The Mountain Hawks have been working hard through much of September, into October, in preparation for the beginning of the fall schedule.
“We started off the year putting a great deal of focus on getting in a number of miles and pushing past boundaries,” said Conley. “The team has had a great start to the year, rowing in mixed lineups and gelling early as a group. We have a great group of senior leaders who are setting the bar high and making sure the team is living up to those standards. It’s early to say how the season will be, but one thing is for sure; the team is getting faster each day we’re at the boathouse.”
The 2011-12 squads feature a number of veterans, highlighted by senior and two-time All-Patriot League honoree Jackie Ogden on the women’s side. She is joined by fellow senior Ainsley Timmel along with junior Ravenna Wilkins as captains. Leading the way for the men are captains Bryce Hurt, a senior, and junior Chris Daniels. They all look to take a number of freshmen under their wing.
“We’ve had a large group of freshmen come out for the team,” said Conley. “It’s been awesome to have such a young energy down at the boathouse; many of them are already breaking freshmen records and truly enjoying the sport. They will be a group to watch as they continue to develop.
“Our captains and seniors have really done a great job of creating a positive atmosphere at the boathouse and making it fun for people to do better each day,” Conley continued. “We are looking to get just a little better each day and the captains and upperclassmen are doing a great job of not only permitting that to happen, but also living it themselves.”
The fall and spring schedules are very similar to last season, beginning with the Head of the Charles, Schuylkill, Frostbite and Braxton Regattas in the fall while the spring kicks off with the Murphy Cup and runs through the Lehigh River Cup and Patriot League Championships. The season is capped off by the Dad Vail Regatta and NCAA Championships in May.
“We start the year with the premier fall event to allow ourselves to learn to row a little better, then go out and see where we stand and what we need to work on so we can make ourselves medalists when the spring comes,” said Conley. “I think keeping the schedule the same will also help the team see the progress we’ve made in just one year.”
Everything begins on Saturday when the men row in the prestigious Head of the Charles in Boston, Mass. Due to the entries being in a lottery system, the men were selected, but not the women, which is why the women unfortunately wait an extra week to begin competition.
“We are looking for the men to start the season with a solid performance by racing over the three miles without taking a stroke off,” said Conley. “If they can do that and stay composed as they get tired, they will have a great race and result.”
For more information on the Head of the Charles, including a complete race schedule, please click here. The Mountain Hawks are scheduled to race in the Collegiate Men’s Fours at 3:32 p.m. Saturday with bow number 32. In addition, Lehigh will have an alumni boat racing in the Men’s Alumni Eight earlier in the day at 11:08 a.m.
“Our goals for the fall are to set a good tone of hard work,” said Conley. “We take the fall as a time to learn what we need to do and see where we are. Each race will be a learning experience to teach ourselves how to push a little harder and a little more efficiently to compete against the best crews in the country. It’s really the only time in the year when we’ll see a number of race crews that are in the top 20 in the country until the Dad Vail Regatta, so it gives a sense of motivation to see how we compare.
“We want to be faster than we were last year and the team knows that all the different work we’ve done is really paying off,” Conley continued. “A lot more land training and miles on the water, too. In the end, it will always come down to the crews that are the most prepared, but most importantly, who want it the most.”