Clemson rowing team blends youth, experience into winning combination

Coach Robbie Tenenbaum: 'The freshmen are doing a fantastic job...It’s one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the future of our team'

Clemson Rowing - 1st Varsity 8

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson Rowing - 1st Varsity 8

Though the Clemson rowing program has recently attracted a wealth of young talent, Coach Robbie Tenenbaum is quick to credit the veteran leadership that’s being provided by three hardworking seniors and an experienced junior coxswain.

“I think that Katie Bruggeling, who’s our Varsity 8 coxswain, is doing an incredible job,” said Tenenbaum. “This is her third year in the Varsity 8, and she’s an extension of the coach in the boat, and is just doing great work. I’m very impressed with how well she’s able to lead from inside the shell. That’s an important thing to have.

“And, then, all of our seniors are doing a great job, especially the seniors that have been in the first two boats. Becca Brown was in the Varsity 8 last year, and has sometimes been in the second 8 this year, and, yet, she has that same leadership ability and is able to get more out of everybody else in the boat.

“Also, Katie Mosier and Kristen Agee. Those three seniors that have been in the very top-end of our program are really doing a great job as leaders. That helps us with the younger people, no matter how talented they are.”

Experience for the Tigers isn’t confined to the senior class, as Tenenbaum also cited the contributions of sophomores Laura D’ Urso and Laura Basadonna.

“Last year we put Laura D’ Urso in the stroke seat sort of midway through the season, right before we raced Ohio State and Michigan, and she made an incredible impact and difference there,” said Tenenbaum. “She’s proved to be an excellent stroke.

“She’s not the tallest person, or the longest, but she’s one of the strongest people on our team, and is just a great leader. She’s easy to follow, and our team has been faster since she went into the stroke seat. She was an All-American last year, and I hope she’s going to lead us to many victories this year.

“Laura Basadonna is from Italy,” he continued, “and has raced at the Junior World Championships, the Under-23 World Championships, and the senior World Championships. She has great racing savvy, and just brings a tremendous amount of experience to the shell. She’s not the strongest person on the team, but her drive and determination, and her experience go a long way.”

With respect to his talented freshman class, Tenenbaum has, again, made good use of his extensive international recruiting connections.

“A group of freshmen have come in and done an incredible job for us since day-one,” he said. “Julia Ost, from Germany, is currently in the bow-seat of the Varsity 8, and is doing a great job. Samantha Duggan, who’s from New Zealand, is in the five-seat of the Varsity 8, and has come in and had an immediate impact on the team.

“Aurelia Wurzel is a freshman from Italy, and has also had an immediate impact. She’s been stroking our second Varsity 8. Stephannie Allen is from Florida. After one or two days, we knew that she was going to row with the varsity group, and probably with one of the first two eights. She’s in the five-seat of the second Varsity 8, and has performed well all year.

“Two other freshmen in our first two boats are Giulia Longatti, who’s from Italy, and MJ Keys, who’s from New Zealand. They’ve also been in the top group from the time they got here. Their maturity, their racing savvy, and the way they fit into the team and how we do things at Clemson, has just been incredibly special.”

Two more freshmen of note are Canadian Carissa Richardson, who’s already established herself as the coxswain for the Varsity 4, and South Carolinian Elise McVey, an all-round athlete who’s new to rowing, but who’s already proving a standout among a novice group that Tenenbaum describes as “stellar.”

“This group of freshmen are doing a fantastic job,” said Tenenbaum. “And it’s one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the future of our team.”

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