The 2002 lightweight rowing season proved to be the last for longtime Head Coach Bruce Konopka, who retired from coaching after 11 seasons at the helm of the Red and Blue. Konopka, who had been with the Quakers throughout the last 22 years dating back to his time as a student-athlete, placed two Red and Blue boats, the freshman eight and the second freshman eight, in the Grand Finale at the EARC Sprints.
The freshman eight boat gave Konopka a memorable finish as they rowed a time of 6:12.69 to place sixth, while the varsity eight boat finished third in the Petite Final in a time of 6:06.21.
The freshman eight started strong as they won their first four races of 2002. After opening the season with a win over Rutgers, the Quakers headed to Princeton to do battle with the Tigers. The Quakers proved too strong for the Tigers as they finished the race in a time of 6:12.9, a solid two and a half seconds ahead of Princeton. The Red and Blue frosh were able to carry the momentum over one more week as they glided across the finish line in a time of 6:00.1, just ahead of Cornell (6:02.6) and Harvard (6:03.9).
The freshman eight looked to stay undefeated on April 20 when they battled Yale and Columbia. The Bulldogs however took the idea of a perfect spring season away from the Quakers, as they edged them at the finishing line with a time of 6:05.2, just nine-tenths of a second ahead of the Red and Blue. The Quakers however did earn their fifth win of the season as they pulled away from Columbia, who finished in a time of 6:12.4, a full six seconds behind the Red and Blue.
The highlight of the varsity eight season came at the IRA Championships, where they finished second in the Petite Final with a time of 5:55.68, which proved to be the last competitive coaching event for Konopka.
The 2002 season got off to a sluggish start for the Red and Blue as they dropped a pair of races, the Lev Brett Cup (Rutgers) on March 30 and the Wood Hammond Cup (Princeton) on April 13.
The Quakers then fell three seconds short of their first win of the season when the finished third behind Cornell (5:51.8) and Harvard (5:57.0) in a time of 6:00.7 at the Matthews-Leonard Cup on April 6. Two weeks later, the Quakers finally got their first win of the 2002 campaign when they beat Columbia to the line by just over three seconds, finishing in a time of 5:57.9 at the Dodge Cup on April 20. In their final race of the season, the Red and Blue fell to Navy at the Callow Cup on April 27, finishing in a time of 6:03.5.
With the departure of 10 letterwinners, the Red and Blue will look to merge the upcoming freshman class, which produced five wins for the Quakers in 2002, with a new head coach when they return to compete in the very competitive Ivy League in 2003.