Men’s crew spent the weekend at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., for the annual New England Rowing Championships (NERC), its penultimate race of the year.
NERC is the first of two championship races the men are competing in this year; the other is the National Invitational Rowing Championship, held next weekend at Lake Quinsigamond.
In a day marred by heavy winds and race cancellations, the Ephs strung together some strong performances. The first event of the day was the men’s novice 8. The novice 8 raced a time trial in the morning to determine seeding for the final in the afternoon. The time trial took the form of a 1650-meter run of the course with a rolling start. In the time trial, the Ephs found their rhythm early and maintained a strong and smooth pace through the base of the piece, before winding it up and unleashing a vicious sprint to the finish line.
In what was the strongest race of the year for the novice 8, it finished with the top time of 5:03.8. The men were followed by Tufts in 5:05.4 and Boston College in 5:06.9. Due to wind, the afternoon’s final was canceled, and the Ephs were unable to test their strength against their opponents in a true race. However, medals were awarded based on time trial results, so Williams took home the gold by decision.
Associate Head Coach Nate Clark said he was excited for the opportunity for the men to test themselves against many of the same crews next week.
“It would have been nice to have actually raced a final in the novice 8,” Clark said, “but we take joy in knowing that the competition won’t make it easy this weekend when we see many of the same crews again.”
“It was nice to see the frosh get that result Saturday,” tri-captain Michael Polson ’17 said.
Next up was the men’s novice 4. Going up against a stiff headwind and top novice 4 boats from other schools, the Ephs finished fourth in 8:53. WPI won the race in 7:56.
The 2v had an excellent day of racing in which it began to meet some of the lofty expectations it set at the beginning of the year. The goal for the morning was to advance to the afternoon’s grand final by placing at least second in their heat. As the race came down to the final stretch, Tufts was pulling away with the lead, and Williams trailed Trinity by several seats.
In the final 300 meters, coxswain Jamie Sullivan ’18 gave the call to attack. The Ephs wound it up and passed the Bantams right before the finish line. The men placed second to Tufts but edged Trinity by 0.7 seconds.
The Ephs qualified for the grand final and lined up against New England’s best. The men showed great poise in their race, Clark said. They placed fifth in 7:03, while Bates won in 6:46.
Last up was the 1v. The Ephs pulled off one of the largest upsets of the day, winning their heat in 6:38, three seconds ahead of top overall seed WPI. Both crews advanced to the afternoon’s grand final.
In the final race of the day, the Ephs waged a back-and-forth battle in a close final race. WPI took the lead through the midsection of the course, but other boats followed in hot pursuit. WPI, however, began to stretch its lead, and the field spaced out.
Coming into the final stretch, the men battled bow-to-bow with rival Wesleyan, but the Ephs fell short at the line. They finished fifth in 6:34.
Associate Head Coach Edward Slater viewed NERC as a chance for the 1v to demonstrate its hard work and progress over the year. “After a regular season of tremendous growth, [the 1v] ventured into New Englands prepared to prove what it was truly capable of.”
Slater said he was pleased with the day’s results.
“NERC provided the opportunity [for us] to realize our true capabilities, bringing our practice to the race course, and each of our boats seized [the opportunity],” he said.
“I am proud of the 2v’s placement in the grand final,” tri-captain Andrew Rondeau ’17 said. “The boat was not seeded to qualify and came out to get second in its heat. That’s an accomplish of sheer toughness and will, especially given the challenges they have faced since the start of the season.
“The 1v is frustrated by its grand final result but beat WPI definitively in the heat. The speed needed to win is already in the boat, and we just need to find it in time for Friday.”
“It’s been a bit of a frustrating season on the varsity side for numerous reasons,” Polson said, “but things are starting to come together.”
The men return to Lake Quinsigamond Friday for the NESCAC Rowing Championships. Both the 1v and 2v boats won the race last year.
The Ephs graduate Polson, Rondeau, tri-captain Graham Buchan ’17, Aaron Finder ’17, Erik Kessler ’17, Noah Krawitz ’17, Alex Ruberto ’17 and Charlie Sheils ’17.