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Matt Cohen and Faye Keegan Named Dartmouth Athletes of the Week

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Matt Cohen and Faye Keegan     By Dartmouth
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Athlete of the Week Archives

Each week, will spotlight two outstanding student-athletes - one male, one female - as Dartmouth's Athletes of the Week. Student-athletes may be chosen based upon their efforts both on and off the field of competition.

The Big Green was triumphant by land and sea this weekend, making equestrian rider Faye Keegan (Greenwich, Conn.) and sailor Matt Cohen (Milford, Conn.) clear choices for Dartmouth Athletes of the Week. Keegan was the High Point Rider at the Colby Sawyer Show while Cohen brought home Dartmouth's own Captain Hurst Bowl for the first time since 2002.

Dartmouth Male Athlete of the Week:
Matt Cohen (Milford, Conn.) Sailing, Senior, Skipper

Senior captain Matt Cohen (Milford, Conn.) teamed up with crew member Alexander Hiller (Pennington, N.J.) and finished in the top spot in the B Division of the Captain Hurst Bowl held at Lake Mascoma in Enfield, N.H. Cohen. The Big Green won the event for the first time since 2002 and with sophomore Samuel Williams (Summit, N.J.) and senior Sarah Freihofer (Etna, N.H.) sailing to a fourth-place finish in the A Division. The team of Cohen and Hiller earned 14 points for the Big Green to the B Division after four races. Williams and Freihofer finished fourth overall in the A Division with 26 points awarded. "I couldn't have won my division without my crew Ali," said Cohen. "And I couldn't have won the regatta without a solid performance by the A division boat."

As the skipper, what are some of the things you need to do to get ready for the race?
The team has been practicing really hard this fall, so everybody is constantly improving. The difficult part is to remember everything you've learned and then execute on race day.  What helps my crew and I a lot is going through our usual pre-race routine before every start. Checking the starting line, the breeze, the course, and the boat in the same way we do before every practice race goes a long way to removing any pressure in a regatta, and really helps my crew and I focus. Since sailing is such an unpredictable sport, it's important to control what you can.

You're coed team has jumped into the national rankings, what has been the key to the success this fall?
First, I should mention that our women's team has been consistently ranked since I've been at Dartmouth. While the Co-ed ranking is new and exciting, it's really the result of steady improvement over the last two years. Better practice and some new talent took the team as whole to a new level, and regatta results followed. Right now we have more people practicing at a higher level than I can ever remember. This allows us to push each other to get better every day, which is what truly makes a successful sailing program.

For those who may be less familiar with sailing, what determines your point total?
In fleet racing, a boat races around a course to a finish line against many other boats.  The winner of the race gets 1 point, second place 2 points, and so on. A regatta consists of a series of many races so an individual's total is the sum of the points from all of their finishes, and the lowest point total wins. College sailing tends to reward consistency, and averaging a 4th or better will usually win a regatta.

Take us through the race over the weekend? How did you come out on top?
The story of this weekend was the lack of wind, so we spent a lot of time waiting for the wind to fill. This meant that when the breeze finally came, it was crucial for me and my crew, Hiller, to quickly get back in a racing mindset. A slow start almost always means a bad race and with only four races in each division we had little room for error. When the breeze filled in on Sunday both Dartmouth divisions finished strong as the teams around us faltered, and we ended up winning the regatta by a single point after a brilliantly sailed final race by Williams and Freihofer.

Dartmouth Female Athlete of the Week:
Faye Keegan (Greenwich, Conn.), Equestrian, Sophomore, Open

Faye Keegan (Greenwich, Conn.) earned her first collegiate High Point Rider honor on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Colby Sawyer Show. Keegan won High Point Rider after accumulating the most points out of 70 riders. At Colby Sawyer, she helped the Big Green team to a third place finish by winning the open fences category and finishing second in open flat. In the team's opening weekend she was first in open flat as the team finished second out of six teams at Middlebury.

How was your first collegiate show?
I was a little bit nervous for my first IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) Show because I hadn't really been in one for almost a year, and I'd never shown in the IHSA before. The IHSA Horse Show format is very unique because when competing at other schools you have to use their horses, which you have never ridden before. Jumping a course on a horse that you've never ridden before can be a little nerve-racking since every horse has its own strengths, weaknesses, quirks and inconsistencies. Yet even as this provides some challenges, it helps to level the playing field and elevate rider skill over horse skill. Equitation is meant to be judged on the rider's technique, and the randomness of the horse draw helps to accentuate that.

Educate our readers in your sport a little bit. How do you earn points in equestrian?

Similar to figure skating, collegiate riding is divided by skill level and you are ranked at a certain level which you compete at until you earn enough points to class up to the next level. There are eight levels and I compete at the highest level, Open, which I was put into this year because of my past equestrian experience, even though I had never competed in the collegiate system before. At each equestrian competition I show in 2 classes: Open Flat and Open Fences. In Open Fences, all the riders are asked to perform the same course of usually six to eight jumps, and they are judged and scored on their performance. In the Flat class riders are all asked to perform basic skills on the flat: walking, trotting, cantering, etc. The top riders in each earn points towards their standings.

You were named the High Point Rider at Colby Sawyer, how exciting was that for you?
I was so excited to be named High Point Rider at Colby-Sawyer! I was first in my class over fences and I was second in my flat class. The points I earned will contribute to my regional standings. The team as a whole also did an incredible job under difficult circumstances (it was snowing!).

What made you decide to ride in college and why did you chose Dartmouth?
When I came to Dartmouth last year I actually hadn't even considered collegiate riding and I wasn't planning on continuing my riding in college. This fall I decided that I missed it too much so I decided to try out for the equestrian team. It's great being able to ride again and to be a member of such a talented and welcoming