As the boats hit the water on the morning of Oct. 16, the women’s rowing team knew they were starting off the Head of the Genesee Regatta with a home course advantage.

With practices on the river that winds around the UR campus a daily occurrence, the team was confident in their abilities to speed past tough DII and III rivals.

“It was really great to be able to host a home regatta and have the home course advantage,” junior Courtney Stewart said. “We know the river like the back of our hands, so it was easy to gauge the distance we had left to row. That allowed us to push our hardest and still have enough left for the final push.”

The women powered through the three mile time trial in the morning, coming in at 18:29 behind Mercyhurst College.

But the real push came in the afternoon, when the Varsity 8 boat, consisting of seniors Margaret Zupa, Hannah Stenger, Kate Kelliher, Jewell Case, juniors Katie Lantuh, Hannah Weaver, Erin Partin, Stewart and freshman Juila Evans, was matched up in a sprint competition with the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Their victory in the sprint competition edged UR past William Smith College to come in fourth overall this weekend.

The other UR boats in the regatta showed their skills on the water as the Varsity 8 B entry and the women’s novice 8 finished in the top 10, with the Varsity 4 crew finishing 11th.

“The Head of the Genesee this past weekend was a great opportunity for us to enjoy racing on our home course, face some of our strongest DIII competition and pinpoint areas to continue focusing on,” Partin said. “With our fall season half completed we have definitely begun to establish a rhythm that we will continue to develop as the year progresses.”

After a great showing at the home competition, the team is looking forward to the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta held in Boston next weekend.

But even as the Head of the Charles Regatta has the team with their sights set on winning in Boston, the Yellowjackets know they have to stay vigilant during the rest of their season.

“Most of my hopes for the rest of the season are centered on Charles, since that is the most important race of our fall season,” Zupa said. “But as we continue after Charles, I know that we’ll continue to improve as we mesh in our lineups with additional practice and racing experience. The goal is always to go faster, no matter what point in the season we’re in.”

Olfano is a member of the class of 2012.

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