Tomorrow (US time) more than 40 young New Zealand athletes will be taking their school fight songs with them from all across America to be part of one of the greatest traditions in US sport.

 

Around half of them will descend on the waters of Harsha Lake in Bethel, Ohio, for the NCAAs, the regatta to decide supremacy in women’s college rowing.

The other half will head to Mercer Lake, not far from Princeton, for the IRAs, the event to decide the best Men’s Heavyweight and Men’s and Women’s Lightweight boats in the country.

“I love having the opportunity to follow the Kiwis in their respective championship regattas,” says Fiona Bourke, Rowing NZ’s International Pathway Lead. “I'm incredibly proud of what they're doing over there, seeing them perform for their programmes, giving it their best and also to see the connection amongst themselves.”

There are currently more than 80 Kiwi athletes on rowing scholarships in the States – just under half won’t be taking part this year.

Why?

Your school has to either qualify or be invited to attend.

The NCAAs championship is split into Division I, II & III categories. Just 36 of the nearly 150 women’s college programmes in the US will get to compete.

In Div I, just 22 schools will get a shot at the national championship crown.

11 qualify by having won their conference, 11 are invitees or “At-Large" entries.

Here’s the 2024 Conference champions and the Kiwi athletes at those programmes.

  • *Denotes those injured or not selected for top boats. List includes rowIT school designation in brackets. All NZ attendees listed as known at 3pm May 30.

American Athletic Conference: Southern Methodist University

*Erin Kang (cox, CGHS), Samantha Eden (STPC), Jaime Maybery (WNCS

Screenshot 2024-05-30 185412

Atlantic 10 Conference: Rhode Island

Atlantic Coast Conference: Syracuse

Grace Loveridge (CGHS), *Kelly Brown (TRGG)

Big 12 Conference: Texas

Big Ten Conference: Michigan

Coastal Athletic Association: Northeastern

The Ivy League: Princeton

*Jess Mabey (EGGS)

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: Jacksonville

Pac-12 Conference: Stanford

Lucy Burrell (BARA), Beckie Leigh (STPC)

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Patriot League: Boston University

West Coast Conference: Gonzaga

At-Large Selections

Brown

*Orla Fitzgerald (CGHS)

California

Duke

Mollie Nicol (QMAR)

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Mollie Nicol , QMC leaver in 2020 and 2021 U19 NZ Team representative who is now at Duke University in North Carolina.

Indiana

Nico Daly (WLGC), Emily Bowden (CGHS), Sophie Bowden (CGHS), Niamh Monk (WNHS), Piper Maaka (WLGC), Maddison Shanks (MTMA), *Laura McCabe (MACL). 

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Bus

THE INDIANA UNIVERSITY team ready to hit the road for Ohio for the NCAAs. 

Ohio State

Jaime Harris (WNCS)

The 2024 Big Ten Rowing Championships on Devil’s Lake at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Sunday May 19, 2024.

Jamie Harris (WNCS) with her Ohio State crew training for the NCAAs. 

Pennsylvania

Rutgers

University of Tennessee

Nicole Campbell (NCOG), Meg Flanagan (MLBG), Alice Fahey (WLGC), Sophie Hill (CGHS), *Maiya Birdling (SHGH).

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Virginia

University of Washington

Zola Kemp (WLGC), Shakira Mirfin (SLDG), Olivia Hay (GLDW)

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Yale

Mackenzie Ealson (DUNS), Eva Hofmans (BAYF)

Andy Teitelbaum was head coach at Ohio State through their unprecedented run of three consecutive national championships between 2013-2015.

Former Rangi Ruru Girls’ School student Catherine Shields was a key figure in the ‘Buckeyes’ programme, and remains the only athlete in NCAA rowing history to win four national titles in a row.

“The first year Ohio State won...Columbus went crazy,” says Andy of the state capital with a population of about two million.

“I mean, they didn't throw us a parade or anything like that, but what surprised me was if I showed up someplace with something that identified me as affiliated with the rowing team, like people knew... that's because this town, they love the Buckeyes.”

Andy thinks it’ll come down to Texas, Stanford (the defending champions) and Princeton.

And don’t discount Tennessee, says Andy. They’re a programme on the rise boosted by coach Kim Cupini. She transferred from Southern Methodist, and New Zealanders Meg Flanagan, Alice Fahey, Nicole Campbell and Sophie Hill followed.

Indiana also has a big contingent of New Zealand athletes, with four set to row the 1V. That includes Nico Daly, who’s just been crowned Big Ten Conference ‘Freshman of the Year’.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” says Nico. “But I was happy to have, how do I say it, that reward for everything I’ve done this year.”

She says mindset has been the big thing.

“Looking at my results and everything I've definitely improved as a rower. The way I approach everything has changed drastically since I've been here...like really giving everything to rowing...mentally as well.”

Right, let’s try and explain the qualification system for the IRAs. On second thoughts, let’s not. Even Andy Teitelbaum concedes it’s way too difficult.

Needless to say, the big focus is on winning the 1V Eight. Bowen De Gouw’s just finished a big team dinner with his Boston University crewmates.

Sure, the 1V is a big deal, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

“Obviously that's where people pay attention to,” says Bowen. “But you know...we pride ourselves on being competitive across the board and when it comes to Sunday and they tally up how every boat went, that's how we rank the overall teams.”

He’ll likely stroke the Boston 2V Eight this weekend but has been in the 1V as well.

“Couple of guys, myself and one other have kind of been shuffled back and forth between the two, just trying to find the combinations that are going to maximise both boats. Team first is our mantra, so whatever the number of the boat is, it doesn't really matter. We're just trying to do our best to earn points and push the programme forward.”

Twenty-four colleges will line up for that 1V crown.

Boston, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Drexel, Georgetown, Harvard, Jacksonville, La Salle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern, Oregon State, Princeton, Santa Clara, Stanford, Syracuse, Cal Berkeley, UC San Diego, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, Navy, Yale University

There are 11 other events for Heavyweight Men and Women’s and Men’s Lightweights.

Here are the New Zealanders involved and their colleges.

Cal Berkeley:

Matthew Waddell (SPLH), Tommy Barrell (AGSB)

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University of Washington:

Ben Shortt (AGSB), Harry Fitzpatrick (STPA), Kieran Joyce (HAMB cox), Blake Bradshaw (WTLB), Ethan Blight (STKT)

Screenshot 2024-05-30 152512

Yale:

Seth Hope (CAMB)

Harvard:

Josh Gordon (HAMB), Fergus Ritchie (LIND), Brahm Erdmann (WTLB, lwt)

Syracuse:

Ethan Graham (WLCO), Sean McHugh (STPA)

SeanMchugh Syracuse

Sean McHugh (STPA) from Syracuse University in the heart of New York State getting race ready for the IRAs. Photo: sharron Bennett Photography

 

Ethan Graham Syracuse2

Ethan Graham (WLCO) from Syracuse University training ahead of the IRAs. Photo: sharron Bennett Photography

Northeastern:

Ed Lopas (CBHS), Ned Botherway (CHCO), Cam Macgillivray (MTAL), Kobe Miller (MLBB), Cole Brann (STKT)

LUCY BURRELL (22)

Boston:

Jack Mitchell (KGCA), Bowen De Gouw (WTLB)

Screenshot 2024-05-30 201014

Brown:

Marcus Winter (MTAL)

Princeton:

Reuben Cook (OBHS, lwt)

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Several will be rowing the 1V8 this weekend.

Watch out for Washington, 2nd in the big race last year with Logan Ullrich in the boat.

Brown and Princeton are also among the favourites, almost inseparable at their Eastern Sprints showdown nearly two weeks ago.

Brown winning by just .081seconds in 5.28.639.

These are rivalries that go back to 1854. And there are traditions that survive just as long.

Whoever’s in the winning 1V8 this weekend will not only collect US rowing’s biggest prize, tradition dictates they are to get the rowing shirt from the person that rows in their seat in the other 23 boats.

Then there’s the fight songs to cheer a crew away from the bank, the swamping of the winning boats.

Cal1

PHOTO: SHARRON BENNETT PHOTOGRAPHY. PHOTO FEATURES: THE CAL BERKELEY 1V (FIRST VARSITY EIGHT) BOAT WITH THE REST OF THE CAL SQUAD SWIMMING OUT TO TO SWAMP THE EIGHT CREW AS THEY CAME INTO THE LANDING FOLLOWING THEIR WIN.

“Collegiate rowing is all about enjoying the challenge in what you're doing and bringing the best out of yourself and those around you,” says Fiona.

It’s now an integral part of our rowing scene too.

“Kiwi athletes are forming their own community across the US as well and seeing them come together at regattas and say hi to other Kiwis that perhaps they didn't know before they moved over there, that network is strengthening and it's pretty awesome because the sport is about more than just results.”

And for some who won’t be at the big show this weekend, it might just be the start of a new journey.

Tegan Fookes’ University of Central Florida crew didn’t qualify for NCAAs. She’s now graduated and is heading back to New Zealand and the Waikato Rowing Club.

The pathway to, and through, the US College system is proving to be a circular one.

You can watch the New Zealand athletes and their crews at the NCAA and IRA rowing championships starting around midnight on Friday (NZT) here:

DI Rowing: Day One, Morning Session - DI Rowing - | NCAA.com

irarowing - YouTube

Schedules here:

NCAA Women's Rowing Championships Schedule (regattatiming.com)

IRA National Championship Schedule (regattatiming.com)

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Andy Hay

Andy Hay is a freelance producer, writer and rowing coach. He was cox of the world champion New Zealand eight of 1982 and '83. He is NZ Olympian #446.