Sporting Life

Spring sports highlights: 2016

Heavyweight crew and baseball came close to championships.

Evan Frondorf ’14 will be a production associate for NBC’s broadcast of the Summer Olympics in Rio.

Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP

Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP

The heavyweight crew celebrates at New London. View full image


It was a banner year for Yale’s rowing teams, all of which found success on the national stage. Building on last season’s Ivy title and long-awaited win over Harvard, the heavyweight eight went undefeated up to the national championship race—defending their title at Eastern Sprints and picking up the first-ever win for Yale at the Head of the Charles. They did so in style, leading races from start to finish.

In the finals of the national championship regatta run by the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA), the varsity eight was immediately challenged by Cal Berkeley, which led throughout and eventually won the title by two seconds. Yale took silver in the battle of the nation’s two best crews. “I strongly believe that if we raced Cal on ten days, it would be 5–5 at the end of the ten races,” says rower Stephan Riemekasten ’17. (Riemekasten, for his part, took the spring semester of 2015 off to train with the German Olympic team and won gold at the 2015 Under-23 World Championships in the double sculls: just one example of this team’s pedigree.)

A win at New London in the 151st Yale-Harvard Regatta would have been icing on the cake for the heavyweights, but the varsity boat’s victory on rough waters is in question due to the fact that Harvard’s boat was swamped by waves less than a half mile in.

The lightweight crew was also among the country’s elite racers, going undefeated in the regular season and winning at Eastern Sprints for the first time since 2002. The varsity eight was top-seeded in the national championship but also came up just short of a national title, falling by two seconds to Columbia. The women’s crew was selected to the NCAA Championship for the 14th time in 15 years, where the varsity four won the petite final and the team finished 11th overall.

Did the rising tide of crew success lift all boats—or at least propel them toward the finish line? The atmosphere was certainly joyous all season at the boathouse in Derby. “We all go out to the same boathouse,” says Riemekasten. “It’s a very magical place. We’re all chasing the same dreams.”



A hot start in Ivy League play and late-season heroics led the Bulldogs baseball team to its first Ivy League division title since 1995. After a tough 2015 season in which Yale went 6–14 in conference play, the Bulldogs put the past behind them with an impressive 6–2 Ivy start this spring—including two wins at reigning champs Columbia to kick off conference play. That’s when this team knew it could compete at the top of the Ivies. “It was big to go there, at their place, and be able to beat them twice,” says Richard Slenker ’17.

The regular season concluded with a one-game playoff against rival Dartmouth to determine the winner of the four-team Red Rolfe division. After falling behind in the decisive game at Yale Field, the Bulldogs scored twice in the eighth inning. With two runners on base at the top of the ninth, pitcher Chasen Ford ’17 got Dartmouth to pop up for the final out, and the Bulldogs could finally celebrate a division title. In the ensuing Ivy League championship series, the team found itself a half-inning away from both an Ivy championship and an NCAA tournament berth, but gave up two late runs at the end of a three-game series at Princeton.

Despite the painful end to the final series, the season was a long-awaited return to success for the program, headed by 24-year coach John Stuper. “It was a step the program hadn’t taken in a while,” says Slenker, next year’s captain. “It proved to our younger guys what we’re capable of. For the older guys, it showed how much effort they put into the program.”

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