GU Women Qualify For Seventh Straight Nationals

By Ed Przylucki Hoya Staff Writer

Two weekends ago, the Georgetown University sailing team qualified for the Inter-Collegiate Yacht Racing Association Team Race National Championship. Qualifying for the tournament for the first time ever, the Hoyas had the opportunity this past weekend to double that success and accomplish yet another first in school sailing history: qualify for two national championships in the same season. That chance came at St. Mary’s College and the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Women’s National Qualifier.

The two-day event started off slow for the Hoyas, who found themselves in fourth place after six races, far out of third place and only a few points ahead of the fifth-place Hobart.

“We were pretty nervous,” Head Coach Mike Callahan said. “We sent two freshman skippers to the meet, and they looked very nervous. The top three teams qualify for nationals, and we knew we’d have to really turn things around to get back in the hunt.”

After a short break on Saturday and a few encouraging words from Callahan, the team began to turn it around. The addition of junior Baye Emery to the A-division boat sparked a run by Georgetown which saw the team move up dramatically in the standings to third place, where they finished on Saturday, with Hobart 10 points back in fourth and Princeton 11 back in fifth.

Sunday, though, was a different story.

Hobart seized an early opportunity on the last day of racing to jump ahead of Georgetown, and once again force the Hoyas to make a move.

“Our girls responded really well to Hobart’s move,” Callahan said. “We went on a little run of our own after they passed us, and we actually moved all the way up to second place.”

With only a few races left and two freshman skippers on the water, Callahan and the team decided it would be best to play it safe and shoot for a qualifying score instead of risking a loss trying to win the regatta.

“We were 19 points ahead of Hobart, and we knew that if we did fairly well in the final races we’d be leaving with an invitation to the national tournament.”

Although they were passed by Old Dominion in the final race, Georgetown sailed well enough to place third at the regatta and earn their seventh-consecutive invitation to the ICYRA Women’s National Championship to be held May 28 through 30 at St. ary’s.

In the B-division, sophomore Leah Williams and freshman Liz Sampson won three of their last four races to finish in second place with 62 points. In the A-division, the team of freshman Mimi Elliott, Shelly Wentworth and junior Baye Emery clinched third place by finishing out of the top five in only two of their last 12 races.

“Mimi turned in a really gutsy performance,” Callahan said. “She was battling pneumonia, mono and strep throat, and this was actually the first time she’d sailed in two weeks.”

With these strong performances, Callahan likes the team’s chances at the national tournament.

“We’ve got a good history at this regatta. We finished fifth last year, and we beat some very tough schools to get in to the tournament this year, so I think we’ll be able to improve on last year’s finish. The fact that we did so well with two freshmen skippers bodes really well for our future, too.”

The team will take a week off before they begin practicing for the tournament.

Also this past weekend, the Georgetown coed sailing team participated in the Thompson Trophy held at the United States Coast Guard Academy.

After the first day of races, the Hoyas were in 15th place and didn’t look to be moving up going into Sunday’s races. However, both divisions got back on track Sunday, and the team managed to jump 11 spots to finish in fourth place overall.

In the B-division, junior skipper John Camera had a string of six top-two finishes as well as wining three races in a row during that stretch. An unfortunate disqualification in one of the races bumped Camera out of second place, but his fourth-place finish in the division was “still quite good” according to Callahan.

Over in the A-division, Ryan Costello managed to string together a significant amount of top three finishes on Sunday to help him finish in fifth place for the regatta.

This meet was the last regatta for the coed team before the AISA Coed National Fleet Race Qualifier, which will be held this weekend.

“We’re shooting to win this regatta,” Callahan said of this weekend’s event. “The top four teams qualify for the nationals and there will probably be one at-large bid, and we’re pretty confident we can place in that top five. But we want to win, especially considering that five of the nation’s top-ten schools are in our district, and a win here would really draw some attention to our program.”

With Sunday’s strong finish, and the triumph of two weeks ago, the Georgetown sailing team has qualified for two national championship regattas for the first time in school history. With a strong showing this weekend, they could wind up with their third invitation to a national tournament in as many weeks, and make even more history in the process.

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