Crew fastest NESCAC boat at New Englands

Crew traveled to Lake Quinsigamond to compete in the New England Rowing Championship. Conditions on Saturday were quite favorable, with a strong tailwind and clear skies.

Races started early with the novice women’s eight rowing the first heat of the day. To move on to the grand final and contend for a medal, the novices needed to finish in the top two crews of their heat. The women did quite well and took first place in their heat with a time of seven minutes, followed by Trinity College, who was two seconds behind them.

In the final later that afternoon, the Ephwomen took on the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Colby, Trinity, Tufts and Smith College. Williams faced stiff competition and took fourth place with a time of 7:14, 14 seconds behinds the leader, UNH. “Of course we were disappointed with the results of the race, although we were satisfied with our performance,” Elissa Popoff ’06 said. “At the end of the day, we were simply not the fastest crew.”

Next came the novice men’s heats with Williams racing UNH, Holy Cross, University of Vermont and Mass. Maritime Academy. The novices established a dominant lead and finished first in the heat with a time of 6:17, five and a half seconds ahead of second-place crew UNH. The afternoon final pitted Williams against Worchester Polytechnic Institute, UNH, Boston College, Coast Guard Academy and UMass-Amherst.

It was a tight race; the lead changed four times between the crews. In the closest finish of the day, Williams took second place only 0.2 seconds behind the victorious WPI with a time of 6:22.85. The top three crews were separated by only 0.3 seconds.

“Our determination and positive attitudes kept us fueled through the long and demanding training season,” Alejandro Acosta ’06 said. “But it was [Assistant Coach] Ben Lewis who taught us to row effectively, enough so that what we lacked in size and strength we made up for in technique.”

“We were, hands down, the smallest crew there, and in some ways our lighter weight can be used to our advantage. A tailwind like the one we had in Worcester can work in our favor, but by no means does it clinch the race for us. The other crews are bigger and much stronger, and so for us that means that every stroke counts,” he said. This crew became the first Williams novice men’s boat to win a medal at the New England Championship.

The junior varsity women’s event came next and Williams faced stiff competition. In their heat, the women took fifth place in a time of 7:12, putting them 12 seconds behind the top boat from UNH. This finish put them into the Petite Final against Holy Cross, Tufts, Bates, Wellesley and Smith College. The JV women raced well in the final, taking first place in a time of 7:14.3, only 0.4 seconds ahead of the second place Holy Cross crew. Their finish placed them seventh in New England out of 12 boats.

After their JV teammates, the varsity women took to the water. In a solid first race, Williams managed to stay ahead of the field and won the heat in a time of 6:39, one second ahead of the second place crew from Holy Cross. The final later that day set Williams against Trinity, UNH, Holy Cross, Coast Guard Academy and Colby. The race was very tight and came down to the last strokes. The Ephwomen came in fifth place with a time of 6:44, which was only four seconds behind the victor, Trinity College.

“In the first race we exploded off the line and were able to sustain a pounding base throughout the race, and were able to dominate our heat without even sprinting. We didn’t execute quite as well in the second race, but it was not a bad race,” captain Liz Mygatt ’03 said. “It was a tight race, we just didn’t do what we needed to do in order to walk through more boats. It was the best weekend of racing we’ve had this season, and I believe we are on an upward trajectory. I think we can be even faster next weekend if we use this week well.”

The final races of the day were the varsity men’s eight. Williams, initially seeded ninth, performed very well in the heat, finishing second with a time of 5:55.94, only 0.6 seconds off of the leader, Holy Cross. The men’s final contained some very strong crews like UMass-Amherst, Boston College, Holy Cross, University of Rhode Island and Trinity. The race started evenly without any crew taking a major lead over another. By the end of the race, UMass-Amherst and Holy Cross had taken a lead over the field and third place was hotly contested between Williams and Boston College.

In the end, UMass-Amherst crossed the line first with a time of 5:53, followed by Holy Cross, then Boston College and Williams in fourth place with a time of 5:59. “We made a lot of improvements this last week that paid off,” captain Luke Hyde ’03 said. “I’m really proud of the guys on the crew.” Although they finished fourth, Williams was the fastest NESCAC crew in the event.

Next weekend, the crew team will travel to Camden, N.J. for the Eastern Conference Athletic Championship.