Crew fares well at season-ending Head of the Fish

As October came to a close, so too did the fall crew season reach its end. Last weekend, the entirety of the Williams Crew program competed in the Head of the Fish, the final regatta of the fall, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Unlike the nasty conditions that Williams rowers frequently deal with on Onota Lake during practices, two weekends ago the water was as flat as week-old soda. With the weather warm, all crews were ready for some fierce and fun racing in efforts to obtain a much-coveted mounted fish head.

The varsity women’s crew prepared for class showdowns, launching three class boats. In the open fours event, Williams entered both a boat made up of rowers from the classes of 2002 and 2003. The class of 2002 (Lisa Cohan; Laura Spero; Shoshana Clark; Izzy Lowell, stroke; Emilie Mathieu, cox) was strong from the start and smoked all competition, coming in first by thirty seconds. The four rowers powering the class of 2003 boat represented the only four freshwomen on the varsity team. This boat (Rachael De Souza; Marianna Maurer; Kimmie Kemper; Emma Herries, stroke; Carol Lynn Higgins ’02, cox) missed third place by only two seconds (behind the University of Vermont’s top boat), proving that Williams women’s crew should continue to be strong in the future. Williams also entered two other fours in this event earning sixth and seventh place finishes.

The final class boat was an eight of upperclasswomen entered in the open eight event. This crew (Heather Barney ’01, Kate Geier ’00, Allison Booth ’00, Nicole Draghi ’00, Celina Zlotoff ’00, Juliet Van Pelt ’01, Sara Kate May ’00; Ginel Hill ’00, stroke; Sarah Parkinson ’01, cox) ended up in a vacuum for the length of the race, meaning that the crew sent off ahead was significantly ahead and the one following was far behind—and as a result didn’t have crews nearby to compete with. The upperclasswomen finished tied for fifth place with Cornell’s third boat.

Although Williams usually races in sweep events (in which each rower only handles one oar), at The Fish the crew made an appearance sculling (each rower powers two oars). The Womens’ Crew raced a double, rowed by Allison Booth and Becca Parker-Johnson, garnering fourth place in a field of 11 entries.

The varsity men had an excellent showing at the Fish as well. Williams went into the open fours event holding the course record. Boated in class line-ups, the class of 2000 (Mark Acton; Matt Fineman; Geordie McClelland; Jonathan Kallay, stroke; Emily Boer, cox) reasserted Williams’ dominance with a first place finish, 23 seconds in front of second place Bowdoin. The boat consisting predominantly of first-years (Derek Ward ’02; Robert Baldwin ’03; Chris Sommerfeld ’03; Ben Martell ’03, stroke; Higgins, cox) finished a close third, emphasizing the fact that Williams crew has great potential for the future. The class of 2002 ended in fifth; 2001 ended seventh. There were 16 crews in the event.

The Williams men continued their success in the open eights event with both varsity and JV boats. The top eight (Tony Salerno ’01, Dan Clayburgh ’01, Sommerfeld, Martell, McClelland, Fineman, David Noe ’00; Kallay, stroke; Boer, cox) came in second, 13 seconds behind Cornell 13 seconds. This solid finish marked Williams’ improvement, as the men came in 23 seconds behind Cornell at the Head of the Charles last Sunday. Furthermore, the men succeeded in defeating Riverside Boat Club of Boston, the crew that was favored to win amongst Division III schools and which beat Williams by over thirty seconds earlier this year. The JV boat finished 11th place out of the 28 crews entered.

A large part of the excitement at The Fish came from performances by Williams’ novice crews. Women’s novices mixed with varsity rowers in the open eight events, competing against varsity crews from other schools. The C boat comprised of six novices and two sophomores came in 28th. The novice/freshmen boat had a neck-and-neck race with several other boats over the greater part of the race, continually battling to gain an advantage. As it was competing against varsity crews, its 15th place finish out of 31 was quite respectable.

Although this was the first race for some novices, they showed real heart on the course. This was exemplified most by the novice four of first-years (Randi Lewi; Anri Wheeler; Diane Reis; Liz Mygatt, stroke; Binny McCague,cox) which came in first in its race.

With gold medals around their necks they called the race “their best rowing of the season.” These five women were the only Williams crew to return with a fishhead to display. Heather Rutherford ’99, novice women’s coach, said of her women, “the novices had a great fall . . .with the positive attitudes and work ethics I’ve seen from these women so far. I predict a strong spring racing season.”

Williams’ novice men raced in the novice four and novices eight events. Despite time penalties, the novice men looked strong throughout. In both races, the men earned tenth place, defeating Middlebury by nearly 30 seconds in both races.

Overall, the Williams crew teams ended the season well at the Head of the Fish with strong performances from all sides.

Now, as Onota Lake freezes over, these dedicated men and women will disappear into the bowels of Lasell Gym for winter training, only to emerge in time for the spring rowing season. If this fall is any indication of the future, Williams has every right to look forward to a competitive and successful sprinting season in the spring.

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