STANFORD, Calif. – The Stanford women’s rowing team celebrated its season, honored its eight seniors and handed out its yearly awards at the annual team banquet last night.
The awards capped off the night of remembrance. The top honor for the team’s Most Valuable Athlete of the Year was awarded to senior Anna Dawson. Freshman Lilly Tinapple received the Newcomer of the Year honor. Senior Daphne Martschenko earned the Leadership Award. Senior Ali Fauci was selected Most Inspirational and sophomore Ellie Parker was tabbed the Most Improved Athlete of the Year.
All eight seniors were honored with a wooden plaque that featured a Stanford oar on it. The seniors who left their mark on the program this year were all in lineups at the NCAA Championships. The list includes Christina Bax, Dawson, Fauci, Valerie Frank, Katie Lopez, Martschenko, Chierika Ukogu and Kristy Wentzel.
The team leadership committee was also honored. The committee was made up of at least one individual from each class and included seniors Dawson, Fauci and Martschenko, junior Naomi Cornman, sophomores Liza Gurtin and Simone Jacobs and freshman Ruth Narode. They all received small lanterns with their name engraved on them for “lighting the way” this season.
Afterwards the team leaders for 2014-15 were announced with current juniors Courtney Carrabino and Cornman, sophomore Katie Toothman and freshman Ruth Narode selected with a freshman to be named at the start of fall training.
Throughout the evening the team reflected on the success of the 2013-14 campaign. It was a season that included many memorable moments. Picked No. 13 in the preseason, the Cardinal used each practice and each race through the fall and spring as building blocks. The team started slowly in the first two weekends of the season, but showed glimpses of what could be when the varsity four knocked off No. 3 Virginia at the Pac-12 Challenge and the second varsity eight ended No. 2 Ohio State’s 19-race winning streak at the Oregon State Classic.
The second weekend in April at the Lake Natoma Invitational is when the entire team came together to put forth a collective effort and break through. The first morning they were swept by No. 6 Brown in the three races, but they came back in the afternoon to sweep No. 4 USC. The next day they carried the momentum forward and swept No. 9 Notre Dame.
With the Cardinal cracking the top five in the rankings, the confidence started to build. Stanford took two of three races in a rematch against No. 9 USC at Redwood Shores. A week later, the Cardinal swept the top three races against No. 2 Cal in the 81st Big Row for the first time since 2009.
Wins over Cal and USC gave Stanford confidence going into the Pac-12 Championships on Lake Natoma. What gave them even more confidence was a bronze medal finish in the first race by the novice eight, a group of nine ladies who had only rowed together as a group once the previous day. That finish sparked the rest of the team and led to gold medal after gold medal as the varsity four, second varsity eight and varsity eight all won their races to give Stanford its first Pac-12 Championship in school history.
The conference title gained respect from the NCAA committee as the Cardinal received the No. 2 seed for the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. Stanford came out on fire at the NCAA’s, sweeping all three heat races to advance to the finals. The varsity eight and varsity four followed with thrilling semifinal victories, while the 2V8 placed second to put all three boats in the Grand Finals for the first time since 2011.
In the Grand Finals, the varsity four started things off with a second place finish to earn silver. It was the highest finish in school history for the varsity four. The second varsity eight followed with a fourth place finish and the varsity eight closed out the weekend with sixth place. Stanford placed fourth overall at the NCAA Championships for a trophy finish for the fourth time in the last six years.