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Rutgers Rowing earns highest national ranking in program history

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The Scarlet Knights moved up seven spots to no. 4 after a standout team performance at the Big Ten Invitational.

Ben Jackson

The Rutgers rowing program has been on the rise ever since head coach Justin Price was hired by athletic director Pat Hobbs in 2017. In his first season, RU earned the program’s first ever Big Ten Boat of the Week and finished a then best seventh place finish at the Big Ten Championships. In his second season in 2019, the Scarlet Knights earned three Big Ten Boat of the Week honors, finished a program best fourth place finish at the Big Ten Championships and made the NCAA Championships for the first time in 18 years with an 11th place finish.

After the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19, the program has made even more progress this spring. After beginning this season ranked no. 10 and having been at no. 11 entering last weekend’s Big Ten Invitational, Rutgers earned a no. 4 ranking in this week’s College Rowing Coaches Association poll. It is the highest national ranking in program history and RU is currently the top ranked program in the Big Ten.

Rutgers jumped seven spots to no. 4 this week after winning 12 of 21 races at the high profile Big Ten Invitational in Harsha Lake in Bethel, Ohio. It was an event that included 11 nationally ranked teams out of 16 teams competing and was designed as preparation for the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA Championships next month. In the Varsity 8, Second Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 races, all three being NCAA Championship events, Rutgers swept then No. 7 Alabama, No. 12 Indiana and No. 18 Washington State, while taking two of three against No. 6 Michigan and No. 20 Syracuse. In addition, RU won Second Varsity 4 and Third Varsity 4 races.

The Rutgers First Varsity 8 crew earned Big Ten Boat of the Week honors after defeating No. 6 Michigan, marking the first ever victory over the Wolverines. The only loss the First Varsity 8 boat has suffered this season came last weekend by a fraction of a second to no. 3 Virginia.

”We talk about improvement constantly and it is great to see everyone’s hard work leading to improvements throughout the entire program,” said head coach Justin Price. “We want to be a team that understands what it takes to accomplish long-term goals. We are looking forward to what is ahead and what is possible if we keep working hard.”

After a week off, Rutgers will host no. 8 Syracuse on Sunday, May 2 on Mercer Lake before heading to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championships on May 16. Expectations for the postseason should be high for the Scarlet Knights after performing at such a high level so far this spring.