Petrik, Rams Get Ready for Princeton Chase

Photo Credit: Meg Ellis
Photo Credit: Meg Ellis

By Meg Ellis Staff

Results: Varsity / Second Varsity 8+ | Novice 8+

KINGSTON, R.I.- Rhode Island senior Karen Petrik has earned the spot as the Varsity 8+ coxswain for the Princeton 3-Mile Chase this weekend. The Rams have entered three eights that will compete on Lake Carnegie in Princeton, N.J. during Sunday's head race. 

The racing field has been set with 42 boats entered into it, but Petrik is no stranger to big races. During her junior campaign, she was the coxswain of the Second Varsity 8+ that won its flight at the Atlantic 10 Championship and placed 20th at the NCAA Championship, matching the highest finish by any Rhode Island boat. For Petrik, the key to her success has been finding ways to connect with her rowers.

"I like to call things during the race that I know will get through to specific people," Petrik said. "I know that Kelsey Williams and Sage Iacovazzi like having their names called out during a race, so sometimes I speak directly to them."

While the motivational piece of racing is important, arguably the most essential part of Petrik's role is steering. Prior to racing, the coxswains will study the course map to strategize how to steer the best line.  The course on Lake Carnegie includes long, sweeping turns that Petrik will need to get the inside of, or else the boat's finish time will be negatively affected.  

"I don't think people outside of the sport realize what a big factor steering is," Petrik said. "I have the ability to completely change the outcome of our race depending on how tightly I'm able to make a turn."

One of the most helpful tools at Petrik's disposal is the Rhode Island coaching staff. Associate head coach Jessica Lizzi was a coxswain for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and led the team to the 1997 Big East Championship title. Petrik credits her success to the one-on-one coaching she has received from Lizzi.

"Jess just gets it," Petrik said. "She is super direct and she knows how to make coxswains better. I'm positive that I made the right choice in coming to Rhode Island because she has made me the coxswain that I am." 

Rhode Island's Varsity 8+, Second Varsity 8+ and Novice 8+ entries will race down the three-mile course on Sunday. The Rams will look to close their gap on some of the teams from last year, as well as get a look at Atlantic-10 competitor George Washington for the first time this season. Racing begins at 9:30 a.m.

Varsity 8+ Lineup:
Cox- Karen Petrik
8- Maddie Van Ummersen
7- Emily Winslow
6- Katie Shattuck
5- Allie Reilly
4- Sarah Dudinski
3- Katie Usher
2- Erika Pena
Bow- Kelsey Williams

Second Varsity 8+ Lineup:
Cox- Brenna Kelly
8- Mekenzie Mattheson
7- Madalyn Saporito
6- Sage Iacovazzi
5- Jennae Alexander 
4- Erin Shober
3- Kira McCully
2- Rachel Fabel
Bow- Faith Hewitt 

Novice 8+ Lineup:
Cox- Olivia Bleier
8- Anna Sampson
7- Faith Hewitt
6- Rachel Fabel 
5- Katherine Bradley
4- Kathy Zeglen
3- Katherine Gillies
2- Tinsley Copeland
Bow- Josephine Grady