Last weekend, men’s crew travelled to Lake Quinsigamond for the first of its two championship races. The New England Rowing Championships brought men and women’s teams from throughout the region for a long day of rowing. Crews rowed in heats in the morning to determine seeding for the afternoon finals. Clear skies, calm waters and a regular light headwind treated all crews to fair rowing conditions.
Two of the Ephs’ four boats medaled in tightly-contested races. The 2V boat captured gold and the 1F boat captured silver. The men’s squad earned second place in the points trophy with a tally of 52, only 1.2 points behind Boston College. Together the men’s and women’s teams won the combined points trophy with a total of 146.7, which is 25.3 points more than second-place Bates.
The 1V boat faced a competitive heat of seven teams with only the top three advancing to the grand final in the afternoon. Williams rowed to a second- place finish behind Boston College, just slightly ahead of Wesleyan. In the finals, all teams got off the start quickly and were jockeying for position through the 750-meter mark before any boat made a definitive move. Boats stayed in contact all the way through the line, but Bates managed to separate itself for a winning time of 6:14.34. They were followed by a string of boats fighting for second place. The next to cross was Boston College in 6:17.01, then Wesleyan in 6:17.75, Trinity in 6:18.78 and Williams in 6:19.74. UNH crossed in 6:29.06 for sixth place.
The 2V boat raced a smaller heat with Boston College, Bates and Tufts. The boat rowed to a second-place finish, seconds behind Boston College and one second ahead of Bates. In the afternoon, the Ephs rocketed out to a lead with a commanding first 1000 putting themselves a couple seconds ahead of the field. Controlling the race from the front, the Ephs dug into the well to hold off their opponents. Worcester Polytechnc Institute (WPI) mounted an exhausting offensive in the final 300 meters, but Williams defended its lead long enough to cross the line 0.44s ahead in a time of 6:20.19. Wesleyan stole third place from Boston College by 0.06 seconds in a time of 6:25.206.
“Our 2V crew raced with heart – passionate emotion and togetherness resulting in a surprising victory over the entire field in first place – the third-consecutive New England title in this event since 2013,” Head Coach Peter Wells said.
The 1F flexed its muscles in the heat with a dominating 14.5-second finish over Boston College. Trinity, however, did the same to UNH in the second heat, which heightened the anticipation for an afternoon showdown. In the final, Trinity and Williams quickly separated from the field in what became a 2000-meter duel. Trinity carried a five- to six-second margin coming into the last 300 meters, but Williams mounted an aggressive comeback, chipping away at Trinity’s lead with every stroke. The finish line came too soon, however, and the Ephs missed out on first place by a tiny 0.44-second margin.
“Our 1F races with heart, emotion and an energy we rarely get to witness,” said Wells. “It was the battle of two great crews – Williams and Trinity essentially right next to each other over the 2000-meter course with Trinity maintaining a slight eight- to 10-foot victory over our men.”
The 3V boat raced in just a final since there were only six boats entered. The men raced a strong race for a fifth-place finish in a time of 6:52.6, ahead of Boston College but behind winner Wesleyan, Bates, WPI and Tufts.
“The 3V was outmatched from the gun – and although having done the best they could, we simply do not have the crew to compete currently at this level,” said Wells. “Some soul searching by all of us will be necessary to see if having a 3V crew is viable here at Williams.”
“This weekend – to say we are a tad ticked off at this past weekend may be an understatement. But we will all find out – myself included – if we are a crew who merely talks about who we are or actually demonstrates who we are and what our true character is based upon our actions.”
The Ephs will spend the next week on their home Lake Onota preparing for the Eastern College Athletic Conference National Invitational Regatta. There will be the notable additions of Michigan, Hobart, Bucknell and Ithaca to the racing mix, among others. Racing begins Sunday morning and will continue into the late afternoon.