Varsity and novice men’s crew compete in final regatta

For the first and last time this season, men’s crew traveled to a regatta as a whole unit. On Sunday, at the Head of the Fish regatta in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 18 varsity rowers combined with 18 novice rowers to square against rivals Wesleyan, Hobart and Colgate. The Ephs took home a third-place finish in the varsity fours race, and then placed fourth as a varsity eight.

Men’s crew’s armada of shells was busy throughout the day, trying to accommodate nearly 40 Eph oarsmen. A number of boats had to be “hot-seated,” or left on the dock for other rowers to swap into. Nearly all Williams rowers at the Fish raced twice, first in a coxed four-man shell and then later in an eight.

The novice men, composed mostly of first-years, posted the Ephs’ first results of the day. Taking second and third place in the novice fours race – an event in which Williams traditionally struggles for depth – the novice boats, coxed by Jenny Schnabl ’10 and Scott Tamura ’09, generated great energy on the water for the rest of the team to follow. Hobart took the top spot in the race. “Hopefully we can close [in] on Hobart by the spring,” Greg Ferris ’10, a member of one of the novice fours, said.

After the novice races, Williams completed in the varsity fours race and finished third. The boat, consisting of Ben Byrne ’08, Will Parker ’08, Riley Maddox ’08, Peter Clements ’08 and coxswain McLane Daniel ’08, finished just in front of the Ephs’ other varsity four boats. In fifth place was the four led by Andy Lee ’10 and two places behind in seventh was the four led by Ryan Dunfee ’08.

“The results in the fours and the closeness of the finishes show a much higher level of fitness,” Head Coach Peter Wells said.

The two novice eights, put together from a strong recruiting class and an energetic group of walk-ons, launched with high ambitions. The eight led by Dan Costanza ’11 finished in third, concluding a successful fall season for the boat.

The second novice eight, however, hit a snag when the oar of bowman Joe Jacobson ’10 collided with a dock, launching him out of the boat. Upon surfacing, another passing oar caught him in the head. Worried that Jacobson’s easy-going demeanor and positive attitude were indicative of a concussion caused by the collision, the boat’s squad was sent home crestfallen. But the novice men finished their first season with positive attitudes. “The weather was great for Saratoga, so guys were in good spirits. Joe Jacobson was so excited he even went for a swim,” Ferris said.

The men’s first varsity eight finished in fourth behind Colgate, Wesleyan and Hobart, respectively. The varsity men have had a frustrating fall as they have consistently placed behind many of their spring rivals.

Racing with the varsity eight boat for the final time in his Williams career was Carl Clayton ’08, who will graduate in December. Clayton brought a lot to the team, which will miss his contributions this spring. Nonetheless, with the fall season over, men’s crew now focuses on their off-season goals and their spring competition.

“A lot of teams are in a position where they are trying to defend or sustain their speed,” Daniel said. “We are lucky in that we get to go hunt them down.”

Hobart and Wesleyan for the last time this fall. Additionally, the tone they set when captains’ practices begin for the team on Nov. 15 will determine whether their rival squads have broken away from Williams, or whether the underdog spirit men’s crew clings to can win once again.