Women’s crew rosters young squad, preps for tenth NCAA title run

Women’s crew has been vigorously training for its fall season, which begins with the Head of the Housatonic this Saturday. Last spring, the team earned their eighth consecutive Div. III NCAA National Championship, and the women hope to set themselves up for success this spring under third-year head coach Kate Maloney by having some strong performances during the fall season.

“It’s a new year, which means that we have a new iteration of people who bring something fresh to the table,” co-captain Tala Abujbara ’14 said.

Abujbara and co-captain Sarah Peters ’14 have the task of leading a Williams squad that lost six seniors after last season and has four juniors studying abroad this fall. However, the five returning seniors, Abujbara, Peters, Anna Hopkins ’14, Kate Kiernan ’14, Julia May ’14 and Iva Nikolau ’14. will look to lead the team through an uncertain fall season. The season will give the team experience as they adapt to the changing composition of the 1V and 2V boats.

“We graduated six seniors who brought a lot of speed and experience to the program, but we have a new group of seniors that’s excited to lead and a young team ready to show what they’re capable of,” Peters said.

The Head of the Housatonic in Shelton, Conn., will provide the Ephs with their first chance to demonstrate their preparation over the past month. Last year, the 1V boat placed a respectable seventh place against several top Div. I schools, while other Eph boats finished sixth in the 2V race and second and third in the collegiate four-plus race.

On Oct. 19 and 20, Williams will travel to the Head of the Charles race in Cambridge, Mass., one of the most prestigious races in the country. At the Charles, the team will face competition from various Div. I schools, and the women will use the Charles as a chance to see how they measure up to other competitive crews. The team holds the course record for the women’s collegiate eight race, which they have won three out of the last five years.

The fall season concludes with the Head of the Fish in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where the novices on the team will be able to gain valuable experience in a competitive race.

“We have a freshmen class that came in fast and is already making a big impact on team speed,” Peters said.

It will not be easy for women’s crew to earn its 10th national championship, but the team is prepared to let the success of previous squads inspire them rather than define them.

“We are informed by the team culture established by the women who came before us, but also make each year our own,” Abujbara said. “Our motto this season is ‘put one foot in front of the other,’ and we have been doing just that.”