Despite membership on a team that has won seven of the nine CAA titles in history, Northeastern seniors and team captains Maggie Walsh and Heather Foti had no idea when they started rowing freshman year that they would both be making a trip to the NCAA Championships for the next four years. Walsh had rowed only during her senior year in high school (at Norwalk River Rowing), and Foti had been a top kayaker in her hometown of Kailua, Hawaii, but had never rowed before walking on at Northeastern.
With Northeastern's convincing sweep of the CAA Championships on the Cooper River today, now both have been part of a CAA Championship team for their entire collegiate careers.
"To be honest, I didn't know that that is what this team was," Walsh said. "Both of us got into rowing late in the game; Heather walked on, and I started rowing late in high school and was really new to the sport in general. It's been great to be a part of and I'm really glad it turned out that way."
"I don't know any different," walk-on Foti said. "I'm used to winning the conference championship, and now I won't have to not know! I've been to NCAA all four years, and I know that we row until June."
Northeastern came into the regatta heavily favored, and produced across the board, winning all four events, and besting the field in the NCAA events by over 13 seconds in all three events. The captains noted that the pressure of being the frontrunners did not disrupt the squad's overall approach.
"We handle going into every race with the same mindset," Foti said "We are confident of our abilities, so we go out and try to do our best. There is additional pressure that comes with having that streak, and even more with wanting for myself to have won CAA's four times, but I don't think anybody felt overarching pressure that they couldn't overcome; I think everyone was really excited about it. It is nice to know that when you go out there, you have pretty good chance of winning."
"Something our team does well is that we're able to focus no matter what the circumstances," Walsh said. "Whether it is a dual race or our conference championship, we go into the race the same, we do the same plan, and we're going to race hard no matter what. We never assume anything or take anything for granted, so we always lay it out. It is different, having that pressure as frontrunner, but it doesn't really change our plan or how we end up doing."
All the Northeastern crews raced from the lead all morning, allowing the Huskies to start to focus on the next part of their season.
"When we got out a bit on the pack, we took the opportunity to check what are our splits right now, what are our margins right now, and who else is racing on the course today that we might want to compare times to – some of the other things that will matter after we get off the course," Walsh said.
"Our goal changed to posting the fastest time we could," Foti said. "We had an idea of how the race might go down, and we always wanted to push for more.
More it will be as the crew continues on for two more weeks leading up to the NCAA Championship on Memorial Day weekend; not quite into June, but getting there.
Northeastern coach Joe Wilhelm was named CAA Coach of the Year, and the following awards were granted:
|All-CAA Team||CAA All-Academic Team|
|Heather Foti||Northeastern||Rylee James||Buffalo|
|Margaret Walsh||Northeastern||Hannah Scholes||Delaware|
|Madison Mailey||Northeastern||Paige Propp||Drexel|
|Hayley Oleksiak||Northeastern||Baylee Kinkade||Eastern Michigan|
|Kendall Wenzke||Drexel||Margaret Walsh||Northeastern|
|Nupur Parikh||Drexel||Hailey Hurteau||Villanova|
|Amanda Flora||Eastern Michigan|
CAA Coach of the Year: Joe Wilhelm, Northeastern