Men’s, women’s crew sweep Little Threes

On an unusually sunny day with a light breeze and temperatures in the 70s, women’s crew won all six of its races at the Little Three regatta, competing against Amherst, Wesleyan and special guest, the University of Vermont (UVM).

Williams’ first varsity and second varsity eights both raced in the first varsity category, finishing first and second, respectively. The first varsity finished 10 seconds ahead of the second varsity in a time of 6:52.

“In my nine years of coaching at Williams I have never seen a women’s crew break 7:00 on the Onota race course,” said Head Coach Justin Moore. “Our varsity went 6:52 and our 2V went 7:02.”

The first and second varsity boats were fairly even off the start, but the first varsity took the lead and had open water before crossing the 1000-meter mark. Wesleyan and UVM followed in 7:14 and 7:18, respectively. “The 2V gave us the best push we’ve had from another crew all season,” first varsity coxswain Allison Prevatt ’09 said.

The first varsity completed their goal from last week to have a faster first 500 meters of the race. “Our goal was to fly off the line, and we did,” Prevatt said. “We sustained a much higher [stroke] rate throughout the race and proved to ourselves that we’re ready to take it to the next level for championship racing.”

Racing as a first varsity showed the second varsity that there is still more work to be done. “I think we’re happy about where we placed in the race, but there’s definitely a lot more speed to work for,” second varsity coxswain Nisi Zhang ’08 said.

The third varsity raced up in the second varsity category and won, beating UVM by 11 seconds.

“We had some difficulties during the week, but it all came together for the race,” third varsity coxswain Monsie Munoz ’09 said. “We had an early lead and stayed focused for the second half of the race.”

The novice eight beat UVM by 46 seconds.

The women also raced four fours. Williams put together a first and second varsity four that both raced in the first varsity four category. The Ephs finished first and second, respectively, with times of 7:47 and 8:07. Amherst and Wesleyan finished third and fourth, with times of 8:15 and 8:44.

The third varsity eight put together a four to race as a second varsity four and beat Amherst by 30 seconds. The novice eight also boated a four and raced in the novice four category. The novice four beat Amherst’s two novice fours by over 50 seconds.

“I was particularly impressed with our rows in the fours,” Moore said. “We rarely practice in the fours, yet the women were able to jump into these line-ups and race effectively.”
This weekend, the women will race at home on Onota Lake against Marist, Bates, Coast Guard and Ithaca. In the April 16 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/USRowing poll, Williams was tied with Trinity for the top spot, followed by Coast Guard, Bates and Ithaca in third, fourth and fifth.

Men’s crew reclaimed the Little Three championship, winning all of its events at the regatta last Saturday. Held on Pittsfield’s Lake Onota in pristine conditions, the day’s racing saw the Ephs not only take back the varsity eight championship from Wesleyan, but dominate across the board in a manner unseen in years.

From their very first event, the men demonstrated that they were more than a match for Wesleyan. Williams’ second varsity, coming off a recent down-to-the-wire dogfight with WPI, beat Wesleyan by more than a boat length of open water. Stroke Andy Lee ’10, who saw his own novice crew beaten by Wesleyan last year, made sure his varsity crew did not suffer the same fate. “It felt great to be first across the line, and set the tone for the day,” said second varsity three-seat Mike Sacks ’09.

Side by side with Lee’s crew was not only the Wesleyan crew, but guest University of Vermont and the Williams third varsity, stroked by Greg Ferris ’10 and coxed by Scott Tamura ’09. While unable to make the first race of the day a one-two finish for Williams, the third varsity nevertheless rowed aggressively, defeating UVM and demonstrating Williams’ newfound depth.

Williams’ novice eight had the difficult task of racing Wesleyan’s second eight. Wesleyan’s program – unorthodox within the ECAC – does not boat a novice eight, rather, it mixes freshmen into whichever boats they are competitive enough for. The Williams novices were, for all intensive purposes, racing in a varsity event.

The powerful “engine room” of Ken Sluis ’11, Jack Wadden ’11, Shawn Curley ’11 and Dan Kenefick ’11 led the novice charge to a 16-second margin of victory. The promising novice eight’s capture of the Calhoun Cup – awarded to the winner of the second eights event – for the first time in years sent the first eight onto the water ready to cement the winning streak.

Wesleyan’s first eight – unbeaten in New England until Saturday – promised to bring a serious challenge to Williams. Ranked second in New England, above the third-ranked Ephs, a contrary statistical ranking released earlier in the week had the Cardinals at thirty-second in the nation to the Ephs’ thirty-first place ranking. The Williams varsity eight, seven of whom returned from the crew Wesleyan defeated last year at the same regatta, knew that a challenge lay ahead of them in recapturing the vaunted Saratoga Oar.

Coxswain Dan Winston ’09 was so focused on his steering and his rowers that the first varsity was a minute into the race before realizing they were in the lead. By the 500-meter mark, Williams’ return to a fast-paced, leading-from-the-front racing style had paid off, as they held Wesleyan back by four seats. The middle thousand of the race saw Wesleyan attempt to fight back. But Winston and stroke Riley Maddox ’08 convinced them this was not an option. Williams crossed the line with open water, leading Wesleyan by a five second margin.

“This was one we really wanted,” co-captain McLane Daniel ’08 said. “Ever since the loss last year and the fall racing, we’ve been the underdogs, so to come out and win like this is especially sweet. Now we have to focus on the rest of New England, with the New England championships less than two weeks away.”

With the prestigious Saratoga Oar back in Williams’ hands, men’s crew looks forward to its second and last home regatta on Saturday. Facing conference rivals Coast Guard, Bates and Tufts, in addition to perennial ECAC powerhouse Marist and a resurgent Ithaca program, the Ephs continue to seek week-to-week improvements.