At the New England championships this Saturday, men’s crew took second place in the first and third varsity events and the novice men finished first, earning their first ever New England novice title. Although the men finished second behind Trinity in the team points standings, they brought home the Quinsigamond Commission Trophy in conjunction with the successful women’s crew for the best overall men’s and women’s team performance.
The novice eight entered its race seeded first in New England. Although their field was thinner than in past years, with only four crews represented, the men still had to face Trinity, whose novice crews have dominated in the past.
Stroke Joey Kiernan ’11 led the mix of walk-ons and experienced rowers off the line, leaping out of the starting blocks alongside Trinity and quickly dropping crews from URI and Coast Guard. Trinity, whose crews typically move to early leads, was unable to establish control of the race. Eph novices owned all 2,000 meters of the course, and crossed the line in a time of 6:08.8, nearly eight seconds ahead of the Bantams and the rest of the field.
“We have written a new page of history,” six-seat Ken Sluis ’11 said. “But we are not ready to relinquish the pen just yet. At ECAC’s, we expect a tough battle with Michigan, Virginia and the national pageant of crews.”
Despite the Ephs’ traditionally strong presence at the New England championships, this was a first ever victory for the novice men. Coached by Dan Reid, a former captain of the Harvard varsity lightweight crew, the novices have only been bested twice, with losses to Delaware and Harvard early in the season. They look toward this week’s ECAC championship regatta as an opportunity to cap off an already historic season.
The varsity crews looked to the example set by the novices as they went out to face their conference rivals, led in large part by Trinity. The third varsity were the first Eph medalists of the day, sprinting past the Cardinals in the last two hundred meters of the race, but falling to the Bantams and bringing home the silver medal.
Coxswain Janna Gordon ’11 drove the crew, led by stroke Greg Ferris ’10, Ryan Dunfee ’08 and McLane Daniel ’08. Their battle with Wesleyan avenged an earlier loss this season, in which the same Wesleyan crew beat them by over a boat length.
After having a difficult start, the second varsity faced a difficult heat but advanced to the petite final. There they recovered from the morning’s challenging race, and led crews from UNH, Colby, University of Rhode Island and Boston College to finish first, in a time of 6:25.342, which would have put them in fifth place of the grand final.
Perhaps the most exciting race of the day came from the men’s first varsity eights. The Bantams, champions of the event for the last three years, were seeded first to the Ephs’ second. Both crews won their respective heats, and were seeded in favored lanes 1 and 2. The final was filled out with crews from Wesleyan, Bates, WPI and Coast Guard, all of whom Williams had seen earlier in the season and all of whom had picked up speed in the previous weeks.
The men were aggressive off the start, leading Trinity in the first 500 meters. Both Williams and Trinity made powerful moves on the field through the middle of the race, but the more experienced Trinity crew ultimately gained more ground and broke away.
In the last 500 of the race, the rest of the field began to push into the Ephs, who held their ground with a powerful sprint. Williams finished 5.5 seconds behind Trinity, a marked improvement over last year’s nearly 19 second gap. However, the improvements shown by Wesleyan and WPI in particular indicate that the men will need to focus on improvements this week in order to perform well at this weekend’s ECAC championships.