It was a historic weekend for Williams Crew at the New England Championships. Women’s Crew raced to medals in every division they competed in, with a gold in the women’s varsity eights and bronze in both JV and novice events. It was the first time all three women’s boats had medaled. Men’s crew raced aggressively as well, finishing second in the Varsity and JV eights races, continuing a trend of medalling at New Englands. The novice men faced down some tough competition, ending up sixth in their race.
The races were held at the Lake Quinsigamond 2000-meter course. Formidable competition was provided by crews from around New England, especially from UNH and Colby. Their supremacy of top rankings was broken by the Williams women’s varsity eight, coxed by Yng Ru-Chen ’00 and powered by Cynthia Osterling ’98 in stroke seat, Elizabeth Smith ’00, Sarah Moline ’99, Ginel Hill ’00, Jana Comstock ’99, Sarah Thomas ’01, Allison Booth ’00 and co-captain Teri Harris in bow. Crew Coach Horner was confident of her varsity boat heading into the race, “We were definitely the underdogs, going in seated third against two Division I, powerhouse schools. I knew we were capable of winning, and I was glad to see everyone come together to make it happen.”
University of New Hampshire, Boston College and Williams went off the line together, out ahead of the pack almost immediately. For the first 250, the three boats vied with one another, with Williams taking a seat or two advantage. At the 500 meters down mark, Williams began to pull away from UNH and BC, but neither crew would go without a fight. Responding to the challenge, Williams began to move out, gaining open water on BC. BC and UNH continued to battle, but couldn’t cut into Williams’ ever widening lead. The Williams women won handily, in a fast time of 7:27, about 6 seconds ahead of BC, and 9 ahead of UNH.
It was a long-awaited, well-earned victory; the women having not won since 1994 and having finished in second, 14 seconds behind BC last year. It was also a race that rewarded a lot of effort and a lot of hard work on the part of the rowers. “It “It was the most amazing and unified race I’ve ever experienced, Terri Harris said. “We knew something needed to be done and we made that conscious decision. It was our year to win.”
The women’s JV boat similarly proved history wrong with their third-place finish, the first time a JV women’s boat has medalled. The relentless and driven boat has performed well all season, getting faster and faster with every race. It was coxed by Jackie Stein ’00, stroked by Kyra Williams ’98, Heather Kovich ’99, co-captain Katie Schultz ’98, Nicole Draghi ’00, Sarah Kate May ’00, Heather Rutherford ’99, Lisa Crooks ’00 and Kate Geier ’00.
The start found them in sixth, battling it out with Trinity. UNH and Smith started out in the lead, and established a fast pace. Conn began to pull ahead of the Williams boat, but Williams began to move, taking back third place and cutting into Smith’s lead with a phenomenal final sprint. UNH took the race in 7:56, with Smith three seconds behind them, and then Williams in 8:03, only one second ahead of fourth- place Conn College. Hard work and determination pulled the Williams boat out in front, making Schultz speak for her team calling it “the single most exciting day I have had in eight years of rowing.”
The women’s novice boat with cox Anne Hereford ’01 and rowers Christie Ellis ’01, Juliet Van Pelt ’01, Celina Zlotoff ’01, Danielle Tarantolo ’01, Heather Barney ’01, Christine Wikelius ’01, Juliana Connelly ’01 and Corey Effinger ’01 also brought home bronze in a historic first for Williams novice women. Coach Diana Sabot was thrilled with the results, saying that her women had raced hard all season long, and “were good at coming from behind and never giving up.”
A combination of finesse and power carried them through to a third-place finish behind UNH and Colby. After a strong start by all crews, they found themselves fifth, with UNH and Colby establishing an early lead. At the 1000-meter mark, they began to move. In the final sprint they began to make significant gains, mirrored by the Wesleyan boat. It came down to a photo-finish, and a dead tie was announced for the two boats. Zlotoff was pleased with the race, “We realized that this is it and there is no other time to do it but know and gave it absolutely everything we had.” Men’s Coach Peter Wells was also impressed with the determination of this young crew in racing so well, “They just don’t give up. They had plenty of chances to think they should just pack it in, but they just never give up. “The novices finished in a time of 8:09, 10 seconds off UNH and 8 seconds behind Colby.
Men’s Crew also enjoyed an illustrious day, with both Varsity and JV boats bringing home the silver. The Varsity boat was composed of cox and tri-captain Reggie Hall ’98, stroke and tri-captain Gerht Lubitz ’98, Geordie McClelland ’00, tri-captain Brad Johnson ’98, Matt Wheeler ’98, Zach Mully ’99, John Williams ’98, Todd Steifler ’00 and John Kallay ’00.
After an even start, all boats left the line rowing hard and fast. For the first 500 meters, UNH gradually crept away from Colby and Williams, who continued to trade the lead back at forth. By the 1000- meter mark, UNH had opened a boat length lead on the Williams Crew and Colby had fallen further back. Fighting for the second half of the race, the men put all they had into a final sprint. Coach Wells was pleased with their performance, especially “proud that they came back in the last 500 [meters], which was quite a race. In the last 20-25 strokes, it was nice to see them really sprint and go through another boat.” The Williams boat caught the UNH crew in the final strokes and cut down into the margin of victory substantially. Kallay felt that, even if they hadn’t won, “We rowed our hardest and really did the best we could have. They were a fast crew.” UNH took top honors in 6:27, with Williams hot on their tails in 6:29.
The JV boat raced to a hard-won second place finish as well. Eric Soskin ’99 coxed rowers Ethan Lasser ’99, Dennis Debassio ’99, Joe Kauffman ’99, Nick Daft ’00, Matt Fineman ’00, Lindsay Tucker ’98, Haynes Cooney ’00 and Mark Acton ’00 to second place behind Colby.
Colby came off first at the start, chased by Williams and BC. The Williams boat finished five seconds behind Colby, but six seconds ahead of their old rivals, UNH. According to Kauffman, exceeding the expectations of being seated third motivated them for their next chance to race Colby. “Now we just realize we have a lot of work to do before we can take it to them in Champion next week,” he said. Coach Wells voiced a similar sentiment, acknowledging that “Colby is one of the fastest JV crews around.” Their times reflected this, with Colby finishing in 6:45, followed by Williams in 6:52.
The day of success was rounded out by a strong sixth place finish for the novice men’s boat. Coxswain Leslie Reith ’01, led the team of Cam Clendaniel ’01, Tim Blum ’01, David Noe ’01, Dan Clayburgh ’01, Tony Salerno ’01, Mark Rothlisberger ’01 and Osterman Perez ’01. They managed to row together despite the wind and fought their way down the course to a sixth place finish, the third highest for a men’s novice crew at Williams.
Coach Wells was thrilled with the finishing of all the crews, “It was the first time we’ve had all six boats in the finals before, and it really speaks well for the prog
ram as a whole.”
All boats will return next weekend to Lake Quinsigamond to face down tough competition in the final regatta of the season, the Champion, International Collegiate Regatta.