Crew teams top at Worcester

Men’s and women’s crew left campus when most college students were still in bed on Saturday to make the long trek to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The squads’ early start and determination paid off, as both first varsity boats won their races, and the other squads all posted strong results.

On the women’s side, after last week’s five-second thrashing of then-second-ranked Ithaca, the team earlier in the week cinched its hold on the top spot in Div. III, garnering all of the poll’s first place votes.

The women reaffirmed their position atop that lofty perch this past weekend as they crushed several top Div. III squads. The first varsity boat finished its 2000-meters in 6:48, 14 seconds ahead of 11th-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and over 25 seconds ahead of the two teams that were tied for eighth in Div. III, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Connecticut College.

“It was a great weekend for the team as a whole,” said co-captain Shoshana Clark ’02. “Our goal every week is to do something a little bit better. This week, we settled onto a really good base rhythm and won the race off that.”

In addition to the first varsity boat’s triumph, the second women’s varsity boat and the first novice boat also enjoyed wins. It was the first win of the season for the novices.

“[We] had a great race against [Conn. College] and MIT,” said novice oarswoman Leisa Rothlisberger ’05. “We won convincingly.”

For a humble squad that stresses team unity as much as these women do, these victories and the second place finish by the women’s second novice boat, which lost to Conn. College, were as important as any race.

“Things are coming together,” said Rothlisberger. “We are working on using everything we’ve learned to become good racers.”

On the men’s side, the first varsity boat enjoyed a victory, handily claiming the regatta’s trophy over very strong competition. The second varsity boat finished second in its race to WPI.

In the first varsity race, Williams had the lead by the thousand-meter mark, and sensing victory, the men bore down, searched within themselves, and found the determination they needed to seize the victory. The team had felt down after a good, but nonetheless disappointing performance the week before, but this victory proved a testament to the men’s resiliency.

“By the 1000-meter mark, we were up on both Conn. College and WPI,” said co-captain Noah Coburn ’02, “But we did not relax and continued to open up water between us and the other boats. There was a sense that we had something to prove after last week.”

The men’s team also raced a coxed four, which included Steve Scroggins ’04, Emil Peinert ’05, co-captain Daniel Werbel-Sanborn ’02, Coburn and coxswain Jay Halleck ’05, who ‘hot-seated’ into the four-man boat immediately after completing the varsity race.

The foursome overcame their fatigue to claim the victory in what proved a very close competition. The team led by less than a boat length for most of the race. The boat came through with a big sprint, and over the last 25 strokes, the rowers pushed with all they had left and maintained the lead for the victory.

“[It was] a very exciting race and very rewarding,” said Coburn. “It showed that we are a tough team that’s willing to go out there and bang heads with anybody at any time.”

The men’s novice teams also enjoyed strong races, as the first novice team beat WPI to finish a narrow second to MIT. It was clear that the intense work that the new rowers put in during the winter had begun to pay dividends on the water.

Each of the squads was proud of its showings, and the varsity teams enjoyed seeing the results of their labor as much as anyone.

However, despite their justified pride, the rowers also realize the importance of maintaining their perspective on the season and their ultimate goals.

“The regular season is used in one part as preparation for the bigger regattas at the end of the year,” commented women’s co-captain Carol Lynn Higgins ’02. “We concentrate on specific parts of the race each week as we continue to improve and get faster.”

With this past weekend’s successes, the teams have built some momentum going into next week’s Little Three races at Williams’ home lake, Lake Onata in Pittsfield, Mass.

Both the men’s and women’s first varsity squads won their races at the Little Three Championships last year, with Williams claiming victory in four of the six races and the Little Three title overall. Both teams, stronger this year than last, and growing more confident with each success, should be in position to repeat last year’s success and bring home the title for the Ephs.