Expectations are high for the 2000-01 women’s rowing program. With the top three boats making the NCAA Championships last season, the team this year is expected to be better, faster and considered as one of the premiere crew programs in the country.

Losing only two rowers from the top boat, the crew consists of many of the same rowers that competed in the championships last spring. The returning rowers, 12 from the varsity eights and everyone from the top varsity four, will bring their experience from having been in a championship in their quest for a national championship.

“I expect us to be better,” Andy Teitelbaum, Ohio State women’s rowing head coach, said. “While we had a great year last year and made the championships, we’re confident we’re going to be even faster and better this year.”

There is no doubt this year’s team is an experienced one. Ten rowers are entering their senior season. Many underclassmen already have participated in more difficult races.

“We are a fairly experienced group,” Teitelbaum said. “A lot of our most talented athletes are still underclassmen. Others have raced in the top boat since they were freshmen. We have a really strong nucleus. We are putting the final pieces together to become a top contender.”

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the rowing program is the experience of the varsity eight. While the top boat is currently without someone in the stroke position, having six veterans in the boat will be an asset to the squad.

“The varsity eight will be more competitive this year with six athletes coming back,” Teitelbaum said. “They will all be better. With the addition of other exceptional athletes in the program, I’m fairly certain we will be stronger and faster. Especially after we sort out the stroke position.”

Teitelbaum said the greatest strength of the members of the crew is their power. What has made this team so strong is based on the talent and training the team has committed themselves to. “Our strength is we have a lot of talented kids in the program. We already have seen a high level of training from them over the summer,” Teitelbaum said. “Another strength is having been to the NCAAs. We have established ourselves as one of the top programs in the country.”

Returning to the NCAAs is the crew program’s top priority for the coming season. Before the team focuses on the championships, the club must focus on their Big Ten opponents.

“One of our goals is to win the conference and knock off Michigan and Michigan State,” Teitelbaum said. “This was a realistic goal for us last year. It’s more realistic now with the amount of talent we have.”

Conny Kirsch will help her teammates to achieve their goals. Named a second-team All-America and first-team all-region selection, Kirsch has established herself as one of the most consistent rowers on the team.

“Conny has demonstrated a high level of performance on a consistent basis,” Teitelbaum said. “We expect her to continue at that level.”

Other top rowers in the program include Katie Buttine, Samantha Bomkamp and Mindy Stauffer. Buttine has been solid in the seven seat of the varsity eight. Stauffer and Bomkamp both have performed well in the top boat since their sophomore seasons.

Also adding to an already talent-packed team will be newcomers Sasha Kildelund and Susi Wesenburg.

“Both Sahsa and Susi have had a fair amount of international experience,” Teitelbaum said. “Sahsa has been in 23 and under world championships, while Susi is a junior world champion.”

In the varsity eight, expect to see Bomkamp and Maxi Meissner. Bomkamp has been in the first varsity since her sophomore year.

“Sam has quietly become a big part of our program ever since she got here,” Teitelbaum said. “Now, as a senior, our expectations of her will be to get noticed a bit more this season.”

Peggy Allis, Megan Kellogg and Alex Leslie have seen time in the second varsity.

“Megan’s athletic ability is conducive for rowing,” Teitelbaum said. “She did a great job for us last season.”

Rowing in the varsity four boats were Marlana Strange, Kristen Gentry and Angela Wendell. Strange helped the second varsity four to an undefeated season as the coxswain in 1999-00. Gentry and Wendell both showed improvement in their first varsity seasons.

“Angela is the type of person you’ll find in the first varsity four or the second varsity eight without ever hearing a word from her,” Teitelbaum said. “She’s good and has consistently improved since she arrived.”

Along with Kildelund and Wesenburg, other new faces on the team are Kathy Webb and Ashley Orr. Both are expected to make an immediate impression with their athleticism.

The spring schedule will provide a challenge for this veteran team. Teitelbaum’s goal in putting the events together was to make sure it was good enough for a national champion.

“The schedule is one of the most difficult, if not our most difficult, ever,” Teitelbaum said. “It’s our goal to become national champions. You cannot become a national champion when you do not race against the faster programs. If you look at the schedule, we are going to race the No. 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8 teams at the NCAA last year during our regular season in 2001.”

The crew will begin the spring rowing season in March with a dual race between Virginia and North Carolina at Charlottesville, Va. The following weekend, Ohio State competes with national powerhouses Brown and Princeton in Princeton, N.J.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to race Brown and Princeton,” Teitelbaum said. “It’s a race we were fortunate to get into. It’s on a fair course with last year’s national champions and the sixth-place finishers.”

The Buckeyes will round out their regular season with two home regattas. The first is April 8 against Cincinnati. The second is much larger and holds more implications. Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Southern California, Clemson and Kansas come to Columbus for a pre-NCAA showdown.

`We are looking forward to our last race of the season in Columbus,” Teitelbaum said. “All six schools are good and it’s shaping up to be a powerful race.”

Looking at the shear talent and the strong new additions, the team this year should be one of the teams to beat.

“I think the program is at the point where we are all in the same place philosophically and on the same page as coaches with Kristin Mermagen and Robbie Tenenbaum entering their third season,” Teitelbaum said. “I expect us to be among the best.”

The 2000-01 women’s rowing program got off to a great start after posting a fine fall season. The team competed in four competitions: the Head of the Ohio, the Head of the Charles, the Speakmon Regatta and the Rivanna Romp.

The first fall race, the Head of the Ohio held in Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 7, showcased the program’s deep talent. The team won the open eight division by 19.5 seconds. After making Buckeye history last year by finishing ninth in the country, returning rowers Conny Kirsch, Katie Buttine, Maxi Meissner, Alex Leslie, Mindy Stauffer and Jill Davis, joined by new additions Susi Wesenburg, Sasha Kildelund and Ashley Orr made OSU history again by coming out on top of one of the biggest head races of the fall season. They finished the 2.8-mile course in 15:44. OSU defeated rivals Boston University, Michigan State, Michigan and Virginia, along with the other 25 competing crews in the 30-crew event. The Buckeye “B” boat finished 12th in the race.

Ohio State then competed in the Head of the Charles, one of the largest head races in the world, in Boston, Mass., Oct. 23. The team finished ninth out of 57 competitors. Once again Kirsch, Buttine, Meissner, Leslie, Stauffer, Davis, Wesenburg and Kildelund helped the boat to a time of 17:06.

The rowing team closed out its fall season Nov. 12 in Charlottesville, Va., at the Rivanna Romp hosted by Virginia. Ohio State took second place in the women’s eight head race with a time of 13:46.6. The Buckeyes went on to take two third-place finishes, one in the novice eight with a time of 15:26.4 and the other in the varsity four event with a time of 15:13.7.