June 12, 2007
The Tiger rowing program continued to make strides in its ninth year as a varsity sport at Clemson. In the spring, Clemson’s varsity 8+ boat was ranked as high as #12 in the US Rowing/CRCA poll. It was the highest ranking ever for the Tigers’ top boat. The varsity 8+ finished their season in the petite final at the Aramark South/Central Sprints, but provided some memorable moments throughout the fall and spring seasons.
The fall conditioning period got underway with the Tail of the Tiger regatta for the second straight year. Clemson swept the top three spots in the varsity 8+ and varsity 4+. The Tigers competed with club teams from Clemson and Georgia at the event. On October 22, 2006, the Tigers headed to Boston, MA to take part in the Head of the Charles. Clemson placed 21st out of 45 boats in the championship 8+ with a time of 16:51.67 on the three-mile course.
The first varsity 8+ also performed well at the Head of the Hooch in November. The Tigers’ top boat finished fourth behind a pair of Tennessee crews and UCF’s A boat. Clemson had a time of 16:01.2 at that racecourse. In the novice 8+, Clemson was also fourth overall. Only two boats from Texas and Indiana’s A crew placed ahead of the Tigers’ top novice boat.
The fall season ended in Charlottesville, VA at the Rivanna Romp. Clemson competed in the varsity 8+ and novice 8+ in adverse conditions. The Tigers persevered through cold, wet, and windy conditions. Clemson’s novice 8+ was runner-up to the Cavaliers’ top crew. The Tigers finished in a time of 15:05.08, ahead of novice crews from Georgetown, Miami, and Tennessee.
The spring season proved to be one of the greatest in the short history of the rowing program at Clemson. The Tigers started the season off on March 3 by sweeping Eastern Michigan in six races. Two weeks later, the program continued its momentum by defeating Indiana, Marist, and Purdue handily at the Clemson Challenge. The only event Clemson did not win at that regatta was the varsity 4+, which saw Indiana cross the finish line in first place.
Clemson began to make noise on a national scene on March 24 after traveling north to Belleville, MI. The Tigers took on varsity 8+ and second varsity 8+ crews from Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. Clemson’s first varsity 8+ posted a time of 6:51.36 and finished ahead of all three schools. It marked the first-ever win for the Tigers in a varsity 8+ race against Michigan and Michigan State. Clemson led the entire 2000m race. All three opponents were nationally ranked in the varsity 8+. Clemson’s victory led to a #12 national ranking and ACC Crew of the Week honors. The crew consisted of Abbey Fernandez (coxswain), Lizzy Jennings, Suzanne Van Fleet, Brittany Cummings, Lindsay Sheppard, Jessica Leidecker, and Kristen Weinacker.
The Tigers took to the West Coast following a landmark win in Michigan. Clemson competed in the two-day San Diego Crew Classic the next weekend. The Tigers claimed petite final wins in both the varsity 8+ and second varsity 8+. The novice 8+ placed third in the petite final.
Clemson’s next competition came at the George Washington Invitational in Washington, DC the following week. The Tigers claimed the Wilkins Trophy after finishing first in the collegiate team standings. Clemson’s varsity 8+ and varsity 4+ competed in three races over a two-day span. The Tigers finished first in each race, defeating the likes of Delaware, Georgetown, George Washington, Iowa, and Navy. Thanks to a strong tail wind, the crews posted incredibly fast times at the regatta. The first varsity 8+ earned its second ACC Crew of the Week accolade thanks to a strong performance at the event.
For the fourth consecutive spring, the Tigers played host to the ACC Rowing Championships on Lake Hartwell. Clemson rebounded from a disappointing fourth-place finish in 2005 and was runner-up to Virginia in 2006. The Tigers were second in the second varsity 8+, varsity 4+, and novice 8+ races. The first varsity 8+ was edged at the finish line by Duke and finished in third place. Clemson’s top boat had an outstanding time of 6:33.8, however, in what proved to be a fast and competitive final. At the conclusion of the event, Suzanne Van Fleet earned All-ACC recognition. It marked the second honor for Cooper and first such honor for Van Fleet.
Clemson also improved on its 2006 standing in the region and at the Aramark South/Central Sprints. The Tigers were 11th overall in the team race and fifth among schools in the South Region. Clemson competed in petite finals in all four races, the varsity 8+, second varsity 8+, varsity 4+, and novice 8+. The Tigers’ best showing was in the novice 8+, where Clemson claimed a first-place finish. Clemson was fifth in the petite final for both the second varsity 8+ and varsity 4+, and fifth in the first varsity 8+ final.
At the conclusion of the season, a Division I best 14 rowers from Clemson were named National Scholar Athletes by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA). Five rowers from Clemson earned repeat honors as National Scholar Athletes, including 2005 winner Lizzy Jennings (Political Science), and Van Fleet (Early Childhood Education) all earned the honor in 2006. Gamble was also honored academically as an ACC postgraduate scholar.
Cooper earned second-team CRCA All-America recognition at season’s end, the second such honor of her career. She and Suzanne Van Fleet and Lindsay Sheppard also participated in US Rowing Under 23 Selection Camps in the summer of 2007.
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