Feb. 12, 2010
After recording the most successful season in program history last year, the future looks bright for Clemson rowing. The list of accomplishments from the 2009 season is long, highlighted by winning an individual National Championship in the Varsity 4+, winning an ACC Championship, and competing at the NCAA Rowing Championships as a team for the first time. Clemson hopes to build upon last season’s successes for an even more victorious season in 2010.
The Tigers return a wealth of talent from last year’s squad, including 18 members who competed at the NCAA Rowing Championships. Clemson also returns most of its ACC Championship team, including four members of the reigning ACC Crew of the Year.
“We certainly have experience returning with 18 of 23 members from the 2009 NCAA squad,” said Head Coach Richard Ruggieri. “The leadership we are looking for is simply to re-state what is needed to be an elite program. This leadership will focus on the future, with a passion and dedication to be the best.”
The Tigers have an accomplished senior class, led by Brittany Cummings and Allison Colberg, Callen Erdeky, Kelly Murphy and coxswain Meredith Razzolini also return for their final season with the Tigers. Two-time team captain Mairi Trimboli, Jenn Agee, Andrea Belbusti and Olivia Shomaker will also contribute strong leadership skills and experience to the team.
“This is a very successful senior class,” Ruggieri said. “They have reached the highest level in rowing, both at Clemson and around the nation. I expect each and every senior to use this experience to complete their career with pride for themselves, their teammates and Clemson University. I also expect them to teach our younger rowers what it means to be successful and how it is done at Clemson.”
The Tigers return a talented bunch of juniors and sophomores, including team captains Connie Gorman and Lydia Hassell. Junior Liz Robb, honored as the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2008, brings two years of experience at the NCAA Championships to the squad. Grace Wolff spent most of last season with the Varsity 8+, while Nicole Bowen, Sarah Daanen, Corey Geer, Victoria Graham, Paige Griffith, Kelsey Hudome, Leah Kelly and Jenna Zylstra also bring a lot of racing experience to the team. Jessica Gaul, a transfer from Duke, will add speed and depth to the Tiger squad.
Clemson will benefit from a talented group of sophomores, led by Melissa Weaver, who competed at the NCAA Rowing Championships with the Second Varsity 8+ as freshmen. Other sophomores that are expected to compete for spots on the varsity squad include Amber Coyne, Kenzie DuBrul, Marissa Henry, Kate Mosier, Bre Przestrzelski and Sarah Young.
Clemson has a strong freshman class this season, representing one of the largest signing classes in Clemson history. The healthy blend of experienced rowers and athletic walk-ons allow this class the opportunity to excel.
“The future of Clemson rowing is on solid ground,” Ruggieri said. “We have the talent capable of being successful, but ultimately this success will be based upon hard work, good leadership and accountability.”
The Tigers are mentored by two-time South Region Coach of the Year and reigning ACC Coach of the Year Richard Ruggieri. In just two years at the helm, Ruggieri has led the Clemson rowing program to new heights, including a 12th place final ranking last season. Missy Fiesler, and Erin Ruggieri complete this year’s coaching staff.
“I am very pleased to have a staff committed to the same ideals that reinforce excellence both on and off the water,” Ruggieri said. “Our rowers will get the very best, which is what I expect each and every day. The level of knowledge, coupled with strong leadership, is something I am proud to be a part of. I am also thankful for a staff that works well together, while sending a clear and united message to all. This staff is complete and the very best in rowing.”
Clemson has an exciting and challenging schedule lined up for the spring, highlighted by a return of the ACC Championships to Lake Hartwell on April 24. The Tigers played host to the conference championship for four consecutive seasons before a drought caused a move to Oak Ridge, TN last season. This season will mark the eighth time overall that the ACC regatta has been held in Tigertown.
“It is exciting to host the ACC Championships in Clemson this year. We take a lot of pride in our facility and the support from the university and city,” Ruggieri said. “We were fortunate to take home the championship in 2009, but understand that more is needed to repeat. We will do our best to race at the highest level, which will be needed in a conference so well respected by our coaches and athletes.”
Clemson began the spring season at home on March 6, followed by a regatta against Boston University on Lake Hartwell the following Saturday. The Tigers welcomed Alabama, Indiana, Marist and Purdue on March 20 for the Clemson Sprints, while Cornell will round out a busy month of racing at home for the Tigers on March 27.
The Tigers will hit the road for the first time on April 3 to compete in the ACC and Big Ten Challenge on Lake Monticello in Virginia. Clemson will travel across the country the following weekend to race against UCLA and Southern Cal in Los Angeles, CA. After playing host to the ACC Championships, the Tigers will travel to Oak Ridge for the Aramark South/Central Sprints. Clemson has had great success in Oak Ridge, including winning the ACC Championship and twice finishing second in the South Region.
“The race schedule is put together to enhance race experience, maintain consistent training and race out of region,” Ruggieri said. “We are fortunate enough to cover all five regions in our race schedule. The level of competition is high and we will need to find a way to maintain consistency throughout. Ultimately, it is this consistency that separates the good programs from the best. We will challenge our rowers and coaches to find a way.”
The Tigers hope their talent and experience will allow them to capture another NCAA berth this season.
“Our goal is the same each and every year: commitment, hard work, accountability and a desire to be your very best both on and off the water,” Ruggieri said. “When we achieve this, our results will take care of themselves. At Clemson, we are working towards becoming National Champions. To get there, nothing can be left to chance.”
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