NCAA Division I Rowing: The RR Preseason Top 20 in 2014

It's that time of year again! Yes, the ice is melting, and crews are back on the water in anticipation of what will undoubtedly be another great season of racing. In fact, we're just three weeks away from kicking things off in earnest on the west coast at the 41st San Diego Crew Classic! But who will be the crews to watch when we're all lined up on the stake boats? Here are our thoughts on the matter.

1. Virginia 
As usual, the Hoos will have some very impressive depth with former junior national team athletes likely to be sitting on the sidelines when the team competes at the NCAA Championships in late May. They will be led by British U23 silver medalist Fiona Schlesinger, German U23 bronze medalist Constanze Duell, former U.S. junior national teamers Elle Murray, Hemingway Benton, Chandler Lally, Lizzy Youngling and Brandy Herald. We also expect their freshmen and transfers to have a major impact on the team this spring, led by Kiwi U23 national team veteran, freshman Hannah Osborne, and U.S. junior national team frosh Georgia Ratcliff and Jo Gurman. Virginia will also benefit from the services of three others new to the squad this year in Dutch graduate student Ella van der Haar and two January transfers: former American junior national team athlete Mackenzi Sherman (who transferred from LMU) and Sam Casto, a transfer from Georgia Tech.

2. California
Will have very impressive top end talent this year and will be a serious threat to capture the crown after missing an opportunity in 2013 when the varsity four failed to make the final. The Bears will be led by a talented and experienced senior class that includes: Olympic bronze medalist Kara Kohler, Kiwi Papa Hipango, Aussie Rosie Popa, and U.S. U23 national teamer Aggie Nowinski, and fellow Americans Greer Uu and Michelle Leason. Expect German sophomore Charlotte Siering to contribute to the varsity eight along with former U.S Junior world championship medalist Kendall Chase. Australian sophomore Jacinta Edmunds will also be gunning for a seat in the varsity eight. Cal will also rely heavily on a trio of foreign freshmen this spring, in the form of German junior national teamer Dorothee Beckendorff, Norwegian U23 sculler Inger Kavlie, and Scottish standout Rowan McKellar.

3. Ohio State 
The defending National Champions return a number of top athletes from last year's squad and will certainly be in the mix again this spring. They return last year's varsity eight South African stern pair of Claire-Louise Bode and Holly Norton along with top american varsity eight members Eelkje Miedema and former U.S. junior national teamer Ashley Bauer. New Zealand junior national teamer Catherine Shields should make the leap from stroking the second varsity eight as a freshman to sitting in the varsity eight as a sophomore. Spanish junior national teamer Aina Cid Centelles, French junior world championship medalist and U23 veteran Daphne Socha should also be in important seats in the NCAA boats once again this spring. The Buckeyes will also be expecting major contributions from freshmen international junior national team athletes Stephanie Williams (Australia), Elodie Ravera-Scarramozzino (France), and former German junior national squad teammates Sandra Dinter and Anne Dietrich.

4. Princeton
We know they will be fit after a long winter filled with lots of hard training. This fitness combined with their talent-laden roster and the leadership from coach Lori Dauphiny will put the Princeton Tigers as the favorites to win the Ivy league Championship as well as compete for a spot on the podium in Indianapolis at the NCAAs. They will be led by outstanding oarswomen and former american junior national team athletes, sisters Kelsey and Erin Reelick, Faith Richardson and Galen Highes, sophomore standout Meghan Wheeler, senior Susannah Shipton, Canadian junior national team athlete Annaliese Ionson, Aussie freshman Geogie Howe, and Irish international, freshmen Bridget Jacques.

5. Washington 
After a strong fall season, they will look to translate their team speed in small boats and fitness on the erg to the spring season in the big boats. They will be led as usual by a bevy of international talent including British U23 silver medalist Fionna Gammond, former British junior national teamer Ruth Whyman, former New Zealand junior nationals Camilla Anderson, Kirstyn Goodger, and Grace Spoors (her twin sister Phoebe is also on this year's squad), Canadian Olympian Patricia Obee and Canadian junior national team member Allie Delarge, Australians sophomore Natasha Gay (who sat out last season will look to make an impact this spring) and Maddie Cordner, as well as former American junior national team silver medalist Kadie Brown will all look to make an impact in the first and second varsity eights for the Huskies this spring. They will also see major contributions from Liz Vogt, Sis Odland, Sarah Dougherty, and Giuliana Chilczuk, who display some good power on the erg. We will also be very interested to see if partially blind former U.S. Paralympian Eleni Englert, who packs elite power potential, will be able to make an NCAA boat for the Huskies.

6. Yale
7. Brown
8. USC
10. Notre Dame
11. Michigan
12. Stanford
13. Harvard
14. Wisconsin
15. Washington State
16. Cornell
17. Louisville
18. Syracuse
19. Clemson
20. Oklahoma

Coming up tomorrow on RR: The top IRA and ACRA programs to watch in 2014. Keep it locked!


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