Williams men's crew finished off the 2013 spring season in strong fashion showing depth at the varsity level with the first and second boats earning silver and gold at New England's and silver and silver at the ECAC National Invitational Regatta.
The team lost only one senior, Zach Tarlow, to graduation and has added a number of experienced frosh this fall. Expectations are high for the Ephs who found success with a young crew last season. Fitness testing and time on the water has shown that rowers on the team put in the requisite work this summer.
Though missing four juniors to study abroad in Oxford, Mystic, and South Africa, there are seven athletes remaining on campus—five from the 1V last spring. Returning are coxswain Maggie Hughes and rowers Russell Taylor, Alexander Nanda, Will Brown, Isaiah Clark, Connor McLane, and Peter Awad.
Last year's strong freshman class returns with six including Logan Jester, Phillip Oung, Alex Ellison, Alex Meyer, Jonas Luebbers and coxswain Chrissy Pak. The underclass pool is rounded out with a strong crop of recruited freshmen and experienced walk-ons that will play a crucial role on the squad this fall.
The Ephs have a back-loaded season this year with all three fall regattas on back-to-back weekends in October. The list includes the Head of the Housatonic in CT, the prestigious Head of the Charles in Boston, and new to the schedule this year the Princeton Chase in NJ.
The Housatonic has traditionally been a good rehearsal for the all-important Charles, allowing rowers to get racing experience in eights and fours against tough competition. Yale's home course, the Housatonic is a long and challenging course for rowers and coxswains alike. The Ephs typically enter the first eight and the top 2 fours into the IRA (Division I) category to race against stalwarts like Yale, Brown and Colombia. The rest of the boats in the program race in the non-IRA (Division III) category.
"We are really excited to put all of our hard work from the summer and early fall to the test," comments co-captain Nick Evert. "It will be great to finally get into a competitive racing situation. Facing off against tough D1 schools gives us a rare opportunity to see where we stack up nationally."
The next race on the docket is the prestigious Head of the Charles in Boston, MA. The largest regatta in the world, the Charles shuts down Boston for the weekend to allow spectators to enjoying watching rowers of all ages compete. The Ephs compete on Sunday afternoon, October 20th, in the Collegiate 8+ event. This year the crew has an unheard of three entries into the event, which each year has to turn away many hopefuls in order to reach its cap of 40 crews.
This opportunity is in large part due to the hard work of both boats last year that placed 5th and 14th earning automatic qualifying bids. The Ephs hope to display not only their top end speed but also the depth of the program. Last year the first boat walked away unsatisfied with their 5th place finish, after 3 gold medals in 2008, 2009, and 2011 and silver in 2010.
"Last year we didn't execute our race as well as we wanted to," comments co-captain Erick Quay. "We made some mistakes, but we learned from them and have come back more prepared this year. We are extremely excited to be the first program in history with three boats in this event. It is really a testament to the dedication and depth of the guys on the team."
The Ephs are upping their game this season with a more challenging end of the year regatta. The crew is sending the top two varsity boats to compete at the Princeton Chase. At the Chase, the Ephs with go up against nearly all of the top 15 Division I schools including Princeton, BU, Cornell, UPenn, Cal, Northeastern and many more. The only other Division III team joining the Ephs is their NESCAC rival Trinity. This is unarguably slated to be the fastest regatta the Ephs have ever participated in.
"We are really excited to take our program to the next level by competing at the Princeton Chase," notes sophomore Logan Jester. "It will allow us the opportunity to chase after crews that are traditionally faster than us, which can only make us better in the process."
Peter Wells has been at the helm of the program since 1982, making this his 32nd season as varsity head coach. Coach Wells emphasized the importance of team development in the fall mentioning that the goal is to go fast but ultimately to develop as teammates and as individuals in order to make a stronger program. Crew is a unique sport in that no individual can achieve any success without the other people in the boat, so creating and fostering a collective attitude will pay dividends on the water in the spring sprint season. Coach Wells also praised the enthusiasm of the rowers on the team, which can be seen in the sheer number of athletes this year across the varsity and novice levels.
The Ephs take to the water this Saturday, October 12th at the Head of the Housatonic in Shelton, CT.