On Saturday, men’s crew charged into championship season with a solid showing at the New England Rowing Championships, with both the 1V and the 3V bringing home medals.
Time trials and heats for seeding in the afternoon’s finals were held in the morning. The novices in the 4+ were first up in the 3V4+ event. In their time trial, the novices struggled to adapt to a tricky cross tailwind and missed out on qualifying for the grand final by seven seconds.
Undeterred, the 4+ attacked its petite final with ferocity. The Ephs and University of Connecticut dropped the rest of the field and battled down the course for the win. The Huskies pulled away through the middle 1000 meters, but the Ephs showed their grit by making a strong push to try and reel the competition back in during the final 500. Alas, their sprint fell short, and the men had to settle for second in the petite final. Williams finished in 7:16, four seconds off of winner University of Connecticut. The 3V also began the day with a time trial, barely sneaking into the grand final with a time of 5:15.4, just 0.7 seconds over the seventh-place Tufts novice boat that beat the men last week. With their spot in the grand final secure, the Ephs looked to make the most of their earned opportunity in the afternoon.
The Ephs were sluggish off the line and lagged toward the back of the field as Boston College’s A-boat charged to a half-length lead through the 500-meter mark. Used to rowing from behind, the Ephs kept their composure and began to move back on the field in the second 500. With a strong rhythm, the Ephs set themselves up for a powerful surge halfway through the race, where they moved through Boston College’s B-boat and the Wesleyan boat that defeated them two weeks ago at Little Threes. With a clean sprint, the Ephs secured bronze in 6:28, eight seconds back from Boston College and three back from Tufts.
Matt Bock ’20 was proud of how his boat built speed through the piece. “We did well to execute our race plan, stay with our pace and commit to building speed from the beginning to the end of the race,” Bock said. “It felt good to finally respond after a tough loss to Wesleyan at Little Threes.”
The 2V put together two extremely tight races. In the morning, the men faced a tough heat that included Boston College and a Tufts crew that beat the men by 18 seconds last week. The Ephs jumped out to a half-length lead on the entire field through the first 500. Undaunted, Boston College slowly walked back through both Tufts and then Williams to take the lead through the midway point in the race. Williams held its half-length lead on Tufts through the 1200-meter mark, but cracks began to show in the final third. The Jumbos began to claw their way back into contention for second place and the final slot in the afternoon’s grand final.
The Ephs came into the final 500 with a razor-thin lead on the Jumbos, as both crews furiously sprinted to the finish from 500 out. Trading bow balls through the red buoys, the Jumbos had a bit more left in their legs for the sprint, edging the Ephs by a seat at the line in a heartbreaker. Williams finished third with a time of 6:09.6, behind Tufts in 6:09.0 and Boston College in 6:07.0. The Ephs finished fourth of all crews in morning heats, with the second, third and fourth fastest times of the morning coming in their heat.
In the petite final, the Ephs were joined by the Bantams, who held the morning’s sixth fastest time in 6:10.0 and lost by only 0.05 to WPI in their morning heat. With both crews looking to avenge their morning defeats, the final was particularly competitive. The men launched off the line with another ferocious start. Trinity answered with its own strong start, falling back only a seat off the start as the rest of the field fell back. The men had a strong shift and continued to pull up on Trinity, building to a half-length lead by the midpoint of the race and a six-seat lead with 650 to go. Coming into the final 500, Trinity began to move back, and the morning looked like it could repeat itself. Both crews ferociously sprinted as the Bantams continued to chip away at the Ephs’ lead. Scorching through the final stretch, Trinity ran out of water as the men held off Trinity’s sprint, winning by 0.5 seconds in 6:12.1.
Adam Bocker ’20 was proud of his crew for finally putting together two races that represented its ability, but he still feels that there is work to be done. “It’s about time, but it wasn’t perfect,” he said. “We have room to improve for next week.”
The 1V enjoyed a relatively drama-free heat, placing second in a time of 6:02, six seconds behind Bates and four seconds ahead of Colby. In the grand final, Williams lined up against many familiar foes including Bates, WPI and Tufts, all of whom had defeated Williams earlier in the season. Looking to avenge their early-season defeats, the Ephs launched off the line in a start that saw year-high, blazingly-fast splits off the high strokes. Bates showed its speed by pushing its bow ball out to an early lead through the first 500 as the Ephs fell into the middle of the pack, duking it out with new foes University of Massachusetts and Boston College and ahead of old rivals WPI and Tufts. The pack was incredibly tight through the base of the piece, with silver up for anyone to take as Bates pushed further into the lead. Coming through the final 500, Boston College began to push open a lead on Williams and University of Massachusetts. The Ephs struck first during the sprint, pushing their bow ball out ahead of the Minutemen with just 100 meters to go. In a final desperate push for hardware, the Minutemen surged back and appeared to pull even as they crossed the finish line. From shore, it was anyone’s guess who had taken the bronze. Minutes later, cheers erupted from the Ephs’ section on the beach as the announcers read off the results, with Williams edging University of Massachusetts by just 0.2 seconds in 6:06.3. The men finished behind Bates in 5:58.9 and Boston College in 6:03.6.
Head coach Marc Mandel commented, “I’m really proud of the resilience our athletes have shown all year. Today’s performances are simply a reflection of the entire team’s effort from September to now.”
The men will close out their season at the National Invitational Rowing Championship in Worcester, Mass. this weekend.
At the season’s end, the Ephs will graduate Karl Bocker ’18, Sam Elison ’18, Devin Flynn ’18 and Wyatt Millstone ’18.