March 20, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 50°F


Women’s rowing team makes waves at the national level

Following another decorated season resulting in a fourth consecutive Liberty League title and a national ranking, the Ithaca College women’s rowing team has lofty expectations for its upcoming racing season. 

In May 2022, the squad secured a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division III Championships in Sarasota, Florida. For head coach Becky Robinson, however, the ranking is not quite enough.

“Based on the results of the second varsity eight race, there were three teams that could have won the national championship and we were one of them,” Robinson said. “We didn’t do it, and that’s how we build on it. They have a taste of it, it was there, and now we have another shot to actually secure it.”

Robinson said that with a seasoned roster — including nine returners to the varsity team — and a glimpse at what a national title could feel like, she is confident that her team has what it takes to make it happen for the first time since 2005

“They got [to the championship] and they didn’t come through on it, which I think is all of the motivation they need,” Robinson said. “We didn’t lose many rowers. One back for their fifth year, two of them back for their sixth years; so we’re really capitalizing on that experience.”

Graduate student stroke Allison Arndt, one of the team’s sixth-year rowers, was awarded All-America honors for the second time in July 2022 following the crew’s decorated spring season. Arndt said that, for her final season with the team, she is largely hoping to hone her skills both in and out of the boat.

“Personally, it’s always a goal of mine to keep getting faster,” Arndt said. “I want to keep showing up, being a better leader and helping to bring up everyone around me.”

Ardnt said that under Robinson’s leadership, the team will be able to adequately adjust to whatever the new season brings its way.

“[Robinson] kind of changes a little bit based on what our team needs each year,” Arndt said. “We didn’t have as good of a season as we wanted last year, so we’ve definitely seen her adapt and shift our team’s mindset heading into the spring.”

In seasons past, the team has raced in both sweep and sculling events during the fall season. While sweep, the style in which the team rows during the spring season, is performed with only one oar, sculling is performed with two. This past fall, the squad stuck strictly to the latter. Senior coxswain Carlie Wohlfahrt said the change in pace might offer the squad an additional edge heading into competition season.

“[With sculling,] there comes a bigger focus on technique, body awareness and boat-feel,” Wohlfahrt said. “I think that will just help us to focus on the small details and the little things this season.”

Wohlfahrt said that outside of the technical emphasis that the fall season has provided, it has also allowed the squad to build the endurance and mental strength that it will need for the spring season.

“Our races in the fall are significantly longer than the ones we’ll have this spring,” Wohlfahrt said. “It’s also helpful to see the other teams and kind of gauge how they’re looking for the season.”

Robinson said that with some changes in coaching staff within the Liberty League, the Bombers’ in-conference opponents could potentially look a little different on the water this spring. The scouting opportunities the team had in the fall will ensure that the Bombers will not fly blind into competition season. 

“William Smith [College] changed coaching staffs and Skidmore [College] changed coaching staffs and both of them did pretty well last year,” Robinson said. “It’ll be interesting to see if those programs move up and get faster and, if they do, they’ll definitely be on our radar.”

With a young team made up largely of walk-on athletes — rowers who were not recruited to the team out of high school — Arndt said the depth of this year’s squad and the valuable mentorship from the team’s decorated veterans will be highlighted in their coming races.

“For a lot of our athletes, this fall was their first time rowing,” Arndt said. “It’s really fun to see how quickly people pick up the technique, though. We have a lot of people who will be rowing at a very high level this year.”

Despite the team’s youth, Robinson said that she has a tremendous amount of confidence in her team, both newcomers and returners, when it comes to their fight for a national title. 

“This team has the potential to go all the way,” Robinson said. “Nothing is for granted, but they need to start by believing in themselves, believing in each other and believing in the process. That way, when we get the opportunity, we’re really prepared to finish it off.”

The Bombers will kick off their spring season when they compete in the Cayuga Duels at 9 a.m. April 1 at the Cayuga Inlet.

Tess Ferguson can be reached at or via Twitter: @tessferg