Men’s crew medals all boats at ECAC Championship

On Sunday, men’s crew traveled to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. for the ECAC National Invitational Rowing Championship (NIRC), the team’s last competition of the season as well as the final collegiate races for six seniors.

On a hot, humid day with high winds blowing from unpredictable directions, sometimes changing from one race to the next, the Ephs pulled off remarkable performances across all boats against much stiffer competition than they saw last week at the New England Championships, where they took gold in the 1V and 2V and silver in the frosh boat. Ithaca, University of Michigan (Michigan), Hobart and Bucknell were among the new additions to the field, and all had shown consistently fast results throughout the season.

The 1V, 2V and 3V raced in morning heats, with the goal being to qualify for the afternoon grand final, while the novice race was a final-only. The 3V took to the course first. A boat of mostly walk-ons that has gained a lot of experience this year, the men rowed hard against tough competition, finishing sixth to advance to the petite final.

The 2V raced next. By finishing first, two seconds ahead of Marist, who the men had never raced before, they guaranteed themselves a place in the afternoon grand final. The 1V was placed in a difficult heat, going up against Wesleyan and Ithaca, among other boats. They needed to place in the top two to advance to the grand final. After the 1000-meter mark, the men had pulled into second place ahead of Wesleyan and behind Ithaca, to whom they had lost two weeks earlier. Determined to demonstrate its speed, the 1V sprinted through Ithaca in the last 500 meters to take first in the heat.

In the afternoon, after resting indoors and refueling for some hard racing, the 3V was the first boat back out on the water, finishing sixth in its petite final in a hard-fought race. Next up was the novice boat. The men lined up against six other crews, including Boston College, who had edged them out the previous weekend by less than a second for gold; Michigan, a perennially fast program and Bucknell, to whom they had also lost previously. Determined to make their final race count, the men rowed a fantastic race, sprinting at the end to finish first, about a second ahead of Michigan and seven ahead of Boston College. The novice boat made history for the program, being the first Williams first-year crew ever to win the ECAC NIRC Championship.

The 2V raced next. Hoping to put up as strong a performance as in their New England Championships win the weekend before, the men got off the line ahead of Michigan and held it off for the majority of the race before being out-sprinted in the final few strokes to finish second, 0.69 seconds behind Michigan. The crew was still tremendously proud of its performance in both the race and the season as a whole. Co-captain Nick Evert ’14 commented that he “really left it all out there on the water.” The men believe that it was their best race, and the five seniors in the boat were happy to cap off their Williams crew careers with such an exciting race.

The much-anticipated 1V race was the last of the day. Lined up next to five other extremely fast and experienced crews – Michigan, Hobart, Bucknell, Bates and Ithaca – the men knew that the whole race would be a fight. The men got off the line in third place behind Michigan and Hobart and in front of Ithaca, and held their position for 1500 meters. At that point, with 500 meters to go, Hobart and Michigan executed blazing fast sprints and pulled ahead of the entire field. Ithaca also managed to push in front of the men, but with a clutch sprint of its own, Williams regained the lead before the line to finish third, about a second ahead of Ithaca and about six seconds behind the winner Hobart and runner-up Michigan.

The 1V was proud to have performed so well in its final race against some of the fastest competition seen at ECACs in years, and emotions abounded on the medals dock. Due to strong performances from all boats, both men’s and women’s, Williams took home the combined men’s and women’s points trophy for the first time in more than three years, a testament to hard work and program depth, and hopefully a predictor of more good things to come for Williams crew.

With the conclusion of the men’s season, the Ephs will graduate Evert,  Peter Ellis ’14, Julian Fernandez ’14, Parker Finch ’14, John Gorman ’14, Andrew Marsh ’14 and co-captain Erick Quay ’14.