Worcester, MA—The Ephs descended upon Lake Quinsigamond for the final time this year for the ECAC National Invitation Regatta, which is the de facto national championship for "DIII" men's rowing. Because men's rowing is not an NCAA sport, there are unofficial divisions, which can be raced between. ECAC's includes teams like Michigan and Bucknell that are technically clubs and race at ACRA's for their national championships. Top teams at ECACs, such as Hobart and Williams, have the option to race again in the "DI" IRA national championships.
This ECAC regatta saw much tougher competition than last week's New England Championships with the addition of teams from NY, PA, MI, and all over the east.
The third varsity kicked the day off early with a really tough heat against a whole new set of teams. Again they were racing against many teams' third boats even though they are William's third fastest boat. The boat took 6th in the heat, and advanced to the petite final.
The second varsity went out next with the mission of repeating last week's results and setting the tone for the team's top boats. The boat did not disappoint with a solid 2 second victory over 2nd place Marist to advance to the grand final. NESCAC peers Trinity and Bates were bumped to the petite final with 3rd and 4th place finishes in the heat.
The first varsity boat was the last to race in the morning heats with a really tough heat against Ithaca, Marist, Wesleyan, Coast Guard, and Skidmore. Even though the top two advance to the grand final, the Ephs raced the heat to the line because lane seeding is dependent of finishes. Wesleyan challenged strongly for the first thousand before dropping behind. The race for first boiled down to Williams and Ithaca. Williams outsprinted the Bombers to reverse the 2 second margin from their race two weeks ago.
Afternoon finals racing started with the third varsity participating in the petite final. The Ephs battled hard down the race course but were out muscled by the field coming in 6th place.
The frosh were the next on the water with their straight final race. This much anticipated race put them up against a quick Michigan crew and the Boston College crew that they lost to the week before by a narrow margin. The Ephs raced a gutsy and beautiful race to capture first with a 1.2 second margin over the Wolverines and a large 7.4 second margin over the Eagles. This victory makes the Eph frosh national champions for the first time in Williams Crew history.
The second varsity boat was next to race. Feeding off the energy from the frosh victory, the Ephs jumped out to a lead on Michigan early. The boat fought hard to fend off moves from Michgan throughout the piece, however, with only 100m left, Michigan was able to power through the Ephs for a narrow 0.69 second margin. Though a heartbreaking loss, the Ephs are incredibly happy with their performance—the last one for many seniors in the boat.
In the final race of the regatta, the first varsity went up against some of the fastest competition ECAC's has seen in years. From lane 1 to 6 the teams were Hobart, Michigan, Williams, Bucknell, Ithaca, and Bates. All the teams rocketed out of the start with Michigan, Hobart and Williams edging the field early on. Michigan established a half-length lead over Hobart who had a half-length over the Ephs. These margins persisted through the body of the race with crews exchanging moves. Around the 500 meter-mark both Michigan and Hobart took off and left the Ephs battling Ithaca for the 3rd place position. Ithaca gained a few seat lead with an early sprint, but the Ephs hammered the last 20 strokes to push through them for a 0.97 second margin and the bronze medal. Hobart mounted an epic sprint to upset the Dad Vail champion Wolverines by 0.4 seconds, nearly 6.9 second ahead of the Ephs.
The combined effort of the men and women's team yielded the Combined Points Trophy as both teams placed second in their racing category. Trinity, Ithaca, Bates, and Wesleyan filled out the top five in combined team points. Today was a great day for all of Williams Crew.
Here is what the captains had to say:
First-varsity stroke Erick Quay: "I am really proud of the guys across all our boats. We really left everything out on the water today. I will remember those final 250 meters the rest of my life; I really felt all 9 of us pick up the boat together to edge Ithaca. I couldn't have asked for a better group of guys to share my final college race with. Hats off to all the very talented crews we competed with this weekend and throughout the entire season. It was a very competitive, deep, field this year that all the crews were fortunate to be a part of. Nothing beats the thrill of healthy competition! Our program has accomplished a lot this year and I'm very pleased with the trajectory all the returners are on. I'd also like to give a big thank you and congrats to all my fellow 2014 oarsmen—what an incredible four years!"
Second-varsity three seat Nick Evert: "It was an awesome race. I have no doubt that we left everything out on the water today. It's been an absolute privilege to be a member of this team—a life changing experience. I just want to thank my teammates and the coaching staff for making these four years incredible."
The 2013-2014 season has concluded for the Ephs, but the 2014-2015 season starts tomorrow, as the Ephs look forward to the Head of the Charles in late October.