Written by Student Assistant Sarah Cornell-Maier
TACOMA, Wash. – After weeks of intense training, the Pacific Lutheran University women's rowing team is returning to their home lake to take on several opponents over the course of the weekend.
The Lutes will be racing against Lewis & Clark College, University of Puget Sound, Mills College, and Pacific University on Saturday at the Logger Invitational at American Lake, before taking on the University of Puget Sound on Sunday in the annual Lamberth Cup.
The annual Lamberth Cup has been a tradition between the PLU and UPS crews for 41 years. In that time, the PLU women's varsity 8+ boat has won 24 to UPS's 16.
The Lutes took home the Cup last year during their phenomenal season, snapping a 13-year drought, before going on to win the Northwest Conference title and place fourth at the NCAA Division III Championships.
With a team that consists of mostly first-years, the Lutes are going to need to maintain that momentum from the 2016 season in order to capitalize on these last conference races.
"Coming off of the successful season that the team had last year, everyone just wants to keep that momentum going and continue to improve and get faster, both individually and as a team," said first-year coxswain Madison Sanders.
Sanders has been the coxswain for the varsity eight boat for the entirety of the 2017 season, but coming into a boat with several returning rowers wasn't intimidating for her. Sanders has experience through a rowing club at home, but the part that made the transition easiest for her was the team atmosphere.
"The team as a whole are really great people, and everyone genuinely cares for each other," said Sanders. "They really are like my family, away from my family."
This sense of community and camaraderie is something that has gotten the Lutes through many hard practices over spring break. The Lutes trained for several hours each day, often twice a day, and the rigor has continued into this week.
Head Coach Andy Foltz is trying something new this week. The third varsity eight, who got third in their race last weekend at the Husky Open, is being split up into two varsity four boats. Foltz said that this would give the Lutes the chance to broaden their experiences on the water, as well as put competitive boats on the water for upcoming races.
"I think I speak for everyone when I say we're so excited to get back on the race course this weekend," said Sanders. "This is a brand new sport to most people on the team, and everyone is really excited to see where it'll take them."
The Lutes begin racing on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with the Lamberth Cup beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday. Prior to Sunday's races, the Lutes will be dedicating their newest boat, "The Spirit of 02" in a ceremony at 8 a.m.