MEDFORD - For the first time in program history, three members of the Tufts University women's rowing team were selected to the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Conference teams announced on Wednesday.
Also for the first time, the Jumbos have rowers selected to the All-NESCAC first team. Juniors Sera Busse and Emma Conroy are on the All-Conference first team, while sophomore Libby Lichter is on the second team.
NESCAC has announced an All-Conference team since 2010. The 10-member squads are comprised of individuals from the eight league teams based on each team's finish at the NESCAC championships, which are held in conjunction with the National Invitational Rowing Championship (NIRC). Tufts was third among conference teams this spring.
The Jumbos were 10-1 during the regular-season this spring. They were fifth in the grand final at both the New England Rowing Championships and the NIRC.
As a walk-on to the sport a year ago, Busse rowed her way into the varsity eight for New England's and the NIRC in 2016. This year she lowered her 2K ergometer time to a decade-strongest 7:06 and was a key contributor to the speed of the eight throughout the spring. Her training regime was an inspiration to the entire team, both women's and men's squads. In particular, she showed the first-year rowers, both recruits and walk-ons, that it is possible to transform oneself with steady effort and a positive outlook.
"When asked advice on how to train, Sera's reply to the recruits was, 'Just get over yourself and stick to the plan,'" Tufts women's head coach Brian Dawe said. "She has a clear picture in her head of what we are trying to accomplish technically and has demonstrated such commitment to self and team improvement that Sera has a great future ahead of her."
A team tri-captain, Conroy led the women's squad by example and through her constant enthusiasm for the art and craft of rowing. She stroked the varsity eight to a top-10 finish at the Head of the Charles in the fall and the next weekend bowed the winning collegiate double at the Head of the Fish. Conroy has stroked the varsity eight since arriving at Tufts, taking the Jumbos to the NCAA grand final in 2015. Embracing a new training plan this year, she improved her 2K erg time by 20 seconds, good enough to drive the eight to impressive speeds off the starts. Her fitness then allowed Conroy to carry high ratings down the course and finish with a devastating lift in the spring.
"Without her I don't think the boat would have made the grand final this year at NIRC," Coach Dawe said. "Her confidence, her ability just to do her job, and her incredible competitive sense carried the rest of the crew. Watching her lift her eight into the second fastest qualifying time of the morning heats at NIRC was inspirational. When asked afterward Emma's reply was simply, 'Yeah, I knew we had it.'" They were down by 1/2 length, but moving at the time."
Lichter joined Busse and Conroy in the fall for the Head of the Charles and bowed the bronze-medal open/collegiate quad at the Head of the Fish. With maturity and patience she went into winter training with a goal to stay with Conroy. The two of them tested within 1/2 second on the March 2K ergometer piece, with Lichter improving by 25 seconds over her first year at Tufts. With that, the stern pair in the varsity eight was set for the spring.
"Emma's drive and tactical sense is matched by Libby and supported by her incredible willpower," Dawe said. "Libby is one of only a small number in the past decade who I have seen go to the limit physically, whether testing indoors or racing outdoors."