In the best conditions seen on Lake Onota in a long time, men’s and women’s crew continued their preparation for this weekend’s New England Championships with races against Bates, Marist, the University of Rochester and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
On the women’s side, both the first and second varsity boats won their heats in a commanding fashion. The first varsity boat showed why it is ranked number one nationally in Div. III, as it capped a quick start with two strong moves in the middle and a fast sprint to finish in 7:02.3. The time was ten seconds faster than second place Marist and over 11 seconds ahead of number 21 Bates.
“The varsity boat had a great race. We did all of the things well that we wanted to,” said women’s co-captain Shoshana Clark ’02. “We were rowing at a higher rate than last week, trying to get used to championship race rating, and it worked pretty well.”
The second varsity boat had an even more impressive showing, continuing a perfect season with a 45-second margin of victory over second place Rochester. The women began the race strong, gaining a boat length over Rochester in the first 100 meters. Despite the lead, the women maintained their focus and intensity for the entire heat for a fast time of 7:26.5.
“[Second varsity] rowed against Rochester and beat them by a huge amount,” said Clark. “They had a quick start, getting a length ahead in the first hundred meters or so. The rest of the race was just about pushing themselves without anyone next to them.”
The women’s novice eight was unable to follow its more experienced counterparts to victory, but it still managed to come in second in a very close heat. The crew came in at 7:26.9, a mere five seconds behind Bates and six seconds ahead of Marist.
On the men’s side, while Williams’ first varsity managed a very respectable time of 6:16.2, Marist better took advantage of the favorable conditions and posted a course record of 6:04.9 to steal the victory. Rochester narrowly edged out the Ephs for second place, while Williams finished ahead of Bates by about one second and the Coast Guard by about seven. Marist entered the contest ranked 20th nationally.
The men’s second varsity boat also finished third in its heat, behind Marist and the Coast Guard with a time of 6:45. Bates finished last at 6:56.3.
On the novice side, the first novice boat finished fourth in its race at 6:44.3, well behind Marist but almost 40 seconds ahead of Rochester. The men’s second novice boat lost its heat by about 25 seconds with a time of 7:10.9.
While those results were something of a disappointment for the squad, the men did have reason to cheer in the varsity four man race. Williams put a novice squad against the Coast Guard’s varsity, and the young bucks pulled off a huge victory with a time of 7:18.7, almost 12 seconds ahead of the Coast Guard boat.
The men expect to medal at next week’s New England Championships at Worcester and move on to the AVAYA Championships the following week in New Jersey. Last year, the first varsity boat finished second to Trinity at New Englands, and with the work that the squad put in throughout the off-season, the team should be able to contend for first place.
On the women’s side, the team clearly has momentum going into the competition, and it is doing all it can to build on its recent success.
“We have to make it feel a little more comfortable, but all in all, it was a great race to prepare us for the New England Championships next weekend,” said Clark, “We had a really tough week of practice this past week.”
The number one-ranked Ephs first varsity boat is among the favorites for the event, which will feature the toughest competition the women have faced all year, including Div. I number 25 Boston College, as well as number three Colby College and fourth-ranked Smith College.
“It was a good race to set us up for New Englands, which we’re all really excited for,” said women’s co-captain Carol Lynn Higgins ’02, “Both boats are going to face challenging races in the heats and finals.”
With all of that competition on the first varsity side, and with both the second varsity and novice crews expected to compete for the top of their heats, it should be, in the words of Head Coach Justin Moore, “a great race next weekend.”