Seniors Elise Widman and Sarah Eastley, juniors Chelsea Gustafson and Victoria McGee and sophomore Egan Berne reached goal times in 20-minute erg testing — a test used to determine a rower’s strength and fitness — earlier in the season. In turn, they were selected to represent the Tar Heels at the regatta in Boston.
The small group of rowers saw it as an opportunity to make a positive impact for the North Carolina rowing program.
“For us, it was a reward to get up here,” McGee said. “Being the first boat to initiate that change in the program and set the precedent was a big deal for us, and we definitely recognize that.”
The group wanted to race well enough to be able to return next year.
“Because this is one of the first years we’ve been able to do this — get a boat up — we just really wanted to set a precedent,” said Eastley, who served as the team’s coxswain. “And we really wanted to try our best to ensure that next year people on our team will be able to go to this as well.”
Eastley’s vision carried over to the team’s performance in the water, and made that a reality for next year’s rowers.
Because the team placed ninth, it earned an automatic placement in next year’s race.
But even with those goals in mind, McGee said the team wasn’t expecting to place as well as it did.
“We were saying ‘I hope we just get top half and we can come back again next year,’” McGee said.
“But to finish ninth, I guess that really blew away any expectations we had going into the race.”
The focus for the Tar Heels was not only to have a solid race, but also to have a positive impact on the rest of the team in the spring when regular-season competition begins.
“If we can get that in to other people going forward, that would be great because we race some of the people in our conference up at this regatta, and compared to their results it is looking really good as far as ACC in the spring,” Eastley said. “And if we can get people to see what we saw, then we’re definitely going to have great results in the spring.”