NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Just two years old as a varsity program, the Merrimack women's crew team was expected to undergo a bumpy rise from its inception through an eventual expectation to compete at a regional and national level.
But in 2012-13, during just the Warriors' second season on campus and in the seaways, Merrimack showed that not only the future is bright, but also that the wait for success would be much shorter than originally anticipated.
Highlighting the 2012-13 women's crew campaign, however, was the team's winning of the Varsity 4 race at the inaugural Northeast-10 Conference Cup; and while it was not the first race crown that the Warriors lay claim to on the year, it certainly went down as the most meaningful, making that victory stand as the No. 10 Merrimack Athletics Moment of 2012-13.
For any varsity squad, no matter the level of competition, a conference title represents the culmination of a year's worth of hard work, attention to detail, endurance and sometimes a bit of luck.
For Merrimack, the Northeast-10 Cup represented exactly that and more; in the modern national landscape of collegiate athletics, newborn programs are hardly expected to garner any success during their younger years against more seasoned schools, coaches and student-athletes.
But the Warriors were not deterred in their second season on the regional rivers. Led by a solid, underclassmen core that rowed well beyond their years, Merrimack took its talents to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., where it faced off against other conference foes such as Assumption, UMass Lowell and Franklin Pierce.
It was there that Merrimack's V4 unit edged the rest of the conference to take the first-ever NE-10 Varsity 4 crown, as team captain Kaylee McKenna (Georgetown, Texas) and Aubrey O'Neill (Pawcatuck, Conn.) earned spots on the NE-10 All-Conference Team for their efforts.
While there was no automatic berth to the NCAA Championships on the line due to the Northeast-10 not sponsoring women's rowing, it could be argued that the NE-10 Cup brought nothing more than bragging rights to the line.
But for Merrimack, that argument was shot down in an instant; the NE-10 V4 crown represented a team whose success is well ahead of schedule; it culminated two years' worth of dedication while helping expand the College's athletic footprint to entirely different channels; and, finally, the NE-10 title put the rest of the conference's and region's programs on notice.
Despite their youth, the Warriors have already blown past initial expectations thanks to their efforts in the NE-10 Cup. And for next year and beyond, those expectations have never been higher on campus.
This is the first of 10 Merrimack Top Moments of 2012-13 installments.
10. Women's Crew wins NE-10 V4 title
9. Friday, June 21
8. Monday, June 24
7. Wednesday, June 26
6. Friday, June 28
5. Monday, July 1
4. Wednesday, July 3
3. Friday, July 5
2. Monday, July 8
1. Wednesday, July 10