Crew alum Kristen Propst ’14 competes in National Selection Regatta, eyes Olympic bid

Kristen+Propst+14+is+working+toward+earning+a+spot+on+the+US+national+crew+team.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Lafayette+College+Crew+Club+Facebook%29

Kristen Propst ’14 is working toward earning a spot on the US national crew team. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College Crew Club Facebook)

AJ Traub

Kristen Propst ‘14 continued her rowing success after Lafayette and has her sights set on the Olympics. Propst most recently competed in the National Selection Regatta, one of the many steps toward a chance at qualifying for the national team.

“I made the A final in the National Selection Regatta,” Propst said. “I was ranked sixth overall, so I’m ranked sixth overall out of the 24 lightweights that entered. It means I have a good chance this year at the World Championships. My ultimate goal is the Olympics, and I am on an upward path towards there, which is exciting.”

Propst is preparing for the next step, the National Selection Regatta 2. She said she is in selection for a partner.

“Next for me, at the end of May, there’s the same type of race,” Propst said. “Everyone’s in doubles. That’s the National Selection Regatta 2. From there, if you win that, you go to World Cup 2 or 3, and if you get the top 50 percent, you get to represent America, your bid to the World Championship in Bulgaria.”

In preparation for the qualifying regattas, Propst has been working on her endurance.

“I’m very powerful,” Propst said. “I’m very good at doing short distances. My endurance needs a lot of work. That was a change I made this winter. I focused on my endurance over power.”

Since graduating, Propst has earned several national championships.

“[In] 2015, I won three national championships,” Propst said. “The intermediate, senior and elite lightweight single championships. Last year I went to Amsterdam in the lightweight quad. I came in second in senior light quad at Holland Becker, which is a pretty big race. A lot of national teams go there.”

Propst had to adjust to post-college rowing, and winning those championships was a confirmation that she was up to the task.

“It was relieving,” Propst said. “I had put a lot of stress on myself to try to win those races. It’s a different type of rowing than I did in college, so I tried to learn it. In college I did sweeps which is one oar, and now I do sculling which uses two oars. I had pride that I put in the work and it showed I was on the right path. It told me I was moving in the right direction in life.”

Propst’s rowing career started at Lafayette.

“I joined the team my freshman year,” she said. “I was a runner and hurt myself. I needed something for a competitive outlet, so I signed up for every club. There was something about crew and I knew I was going to be on the team for four years, [even though] I hadn’t even been in a boat yet.”

She excelled with the women’s crew team, and occasionally, the men’s.

“I went to the Head of the Charles three times, got a Dad Vails silver medal, and my coxing glory at ACRAs. We got fourth,” Propst said. “This was when I coxed, or steered the lightweight men’s 4.”

Coaches Trish Brubaker and Rick Kelliher inspired her to continue rowing after Lafayette.

“Under [Brubaker], she gave me a lot of experience rowing with the varsity girls and saw me as a lightweight with a lot of potential,” Propst said. “My junior year, [Kelliher] came and we did morning practices and started getting in the weight room. He was the one who introduced me to more than intercollegiate crew. He rowed at my rival here in Philadelphia. My senior year, Rick [Kelliher] pushed me to apply for under-23 development teams. I never realized I was good enough to compete outside of Lafayette, but [Brubaker] and [Kelliher] really set me up for where I am now.”

Along with her Olympic goals, Propst is coaching the next generation of rowers.

“I just got interviewed for a coaching position,” Propst said. “It’s a high school team, the Shipley School. It’s a school that practices out of boathouse row. I [got the position and] coach the freshman girls.”

The school is understanding of her pursuit of an Olympic bid while she coaches.

“They’re very supportive of my time at Princeton and the time that it takes to make this dream come true,” Propst said.