Women's Rowers Return Woodbury Cup to Columbia with Defeats of Northeastern and Dartmouth
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars
RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. -- Columbia women's rowing coach Scott Ramsey had been talking about returning the Woodbury Cup to Columbia since … well, since the Lions lost it to Northeastern in Boston last season.
His resolve, and that of his rowers, had intensified recently, so much so that it was not a surprise when the Lion first varsity eight jumped off the starting line at the beginning of its race with Northeastern and Dartmouth, the 2000-meter quest for the Cup.
Joe Wilhelm, the veteran Northeastern head coach, had coached the Columbia women and men in the 1980's before going to the Boston school. He knew what the Cup meant to Columbia.
"I knew we'd have a fight on our hands," Wilhelm said Sunday, minutes after Columbia had regained the Woodbury Cup with a decisive victory, 12.4 seconds better than the Huskies and 24.7 better than the Big Green. "Columbia came off the line like a shot out of hell."
Just 24 hours earlier, Columbia had lost to third-ranked Princeton by more than 11 seconds. Although Princeton's victory was not unexpected, the Lions' lack of fight was.
Ramsey and his staff had stressed that lack of intensity again and again following the Princeton race, and the Lions took it to heart.
"We got off to a fast start today," the coach said of the 1V8 race against Northeastern and Dartmouth. "We rowed a high cadence the first 500 meters, and when we dropped down to a base in the next 500, we dropped to a fine rhythm."
Following the Saturday Princeton contest, Ramsey related, "We stressed to our crew that they had to be more aggressive every time we race. We were not that aggressive against Princeton, but we [should have been].
"We have to row with urgency and with passion, start to finish, the entire race. We have to be constantly attacking!"
The Lion varsity eight demonstrated that in the middle part of the race. Although challenged by vicious, unrelenting winds sweeping across Overpeck Lake, Columbia broke the race open -- "significantly open," Ramsey said -- in the middle 1000 meters. They continued to pour it on across the finish line, following their coaches' wishes to the letter.
Columbia came across the line in 6:28.9, leading Northeastern (6:41.3) and Dartmouth (6:53.6). The Big Green were set back considerably when they caught a crab with about 250 meters to go.
"Columbia's varsity eight was the superior crew today," Joe Wilhelm told the large post-race crowd. Scott Ramsey seemed very pleased. Addressing his team, he said, "We asked you to do something [after Saturday]. You went out and did what we asked you to do."
The Lions' two fours also rowed well. The A four won by large margins, 16 seconds ahead of Dartmouth, 22 seconds better than Northeastern. The B four finished second, just eight seconds behind Dartmouth. Despite hitting an early buoy, Northeastern was only 8.8 seconds behind Columbia.
The Lion second varsity eight was also second of three, ahead of Northeastern but behind Dartmouth, in 7:47.9. "We'll keep working with the second varsity," Ramsey said. "They have the athletes to do better."
Columbia will take next weekend off before returning to Overpeck Park April 20 for a race with Bucknell.
Several teammates of the late Melanie "Mel" Woodbury were on hand for the Cup presentation. They addressed the present team.
The Cup was inaugurated in 2005, in honor of the former Columbia captain and MVP, a 1996 Barnard graduate, who was killed in an auto accident in December, 2002.
Today's results:

The Woodbury Cup
Columbia vs. Northeastern, Dartmouth competing as a guest
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Overpeck Park, Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Varsity Eights
1. Columbia, 6:28.9
2. Northeastern, 6:41.3
3. Dartmouth, 6:53.6

Second Varsity Eights
1. Dartmouth, 6:38.1
2. Columbia, 6:48.2
3. Northeastern, 6:55.1

Varsity Fours A
1. Columbia, 7:26.4
2. Dartmouth, 7:42.8
3. Northeastern, 7:48.5

Varsity Fours B
1. Dartmouth, 7:39.4
2. Columbia, 7:47.9
3. Northeastern, 7:56.7

Today's Boatings:

Varsity Eight
Aneesha Baliga, cox; Rebecca Randall, stroke; Fiona Duffy, 7; Samantha Warren, 6; Amelia Brunner, 5; Karli McMenamin, 4; Jocelyn Bohn, 3; Nikki Bourassa, 2; Lottie Galliano, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Clare Hua, cox; India Knight, stroke; Kellie Solowski, 7; Caitlin Shufelt, 6; Alexandra Delaney, 5; Madeline O'Brien, 4; Elisa Mirkil, 3; Jessica Werlin, 2; Hilary Going, bow

Varsity Four, A
Jill Klein, cox; Colleen Condon, stroke; Sylvie Krekow, 3; Alexandra Swift,  2; Hayley Weil, bow

Varsity Four, B
Audrey Warren, cox; Natalie Rutherford, stroke; Carly Tashjian, 3; Lauren Peirce, 2; Sara Hyten, bow