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WORCESTER, MASS. - The men's 1V won the New England Rowing Championships for the first time in 13 years. The 2V boat medaled for the first time in 10 years and the 3V retained its silver medal from last year.
It was an unbelievable weekend for Williams. The crew left campus on Friday at midday with just hopes for Worcester. They came back with accomplishments.
The first race of the day was the 2V's qualifying race. The men took to the water and executed their race plan. Dan Costanza '11 bow seat recounts, "we went into the heat expecting to push through easily, so when we came off the line in last, I was quite shaken. But we put on a big push through the 500 meter mark and had a comfortable position coming through the 1000, allowing us to shut it down a bit and save energy for the final."
But still the prospects for the afternoon seemed dim, Coach Lewis recounts "our time in the Heat showed we were at the back of a close pack but the heat had been a strong row and we shut down conserving energy for the final.
The next race was the 1V's qualifying race. Rob Buesing '09 captain and 4-seat said "we started out fast, we were even on Bates through the 500, an improvement over last week." Further into the race he said, "we took a great move between 750 and 1000 to move out on them, once we got to open water we shut down a little bit. Overall, it was a comfortable race which we didn't expend too much energy to win."
After lunch, the serious racing began.
The 3V event was a straight final. The crew had a very aggressive race and pulled away from WPI and URI but finished seven seconds behind Trinity. The great move inspired the men's 2V as they took to the water for their grand final.
The 2V event was the best racing of the day. "Things just really came together for us in the final. Everyone's heart went into that piece, and we did something that most considered impossible" said Shawn Curley '11 4-seat of the boat. Coach Lewis relayed the race plans, "we knew it would be very close between 2nd and 4th and the plan was simple- come out hard, keep in touch, then go crazy for the second half."
The crew was locked in the most intense battle of the day in the second 1000 meters of the race. Bowman Dan Costanza '11 explained: "On the sprint, our big push in the middle started to catch up and our inexperience showed a bit, as we allowed WPI back through us and Coast Guard back within a seat. But we had a huge push in the last 200 meters."
Dan Winston relates his feelings at the finish, "we didn't know who had won - sitting on the water for two minutes, waiting for the announc er were some of the tensest moments I can remember.
Nathaniel Lim '11 7-seat of the boat relived the drama: "We waited at the finish, deathly quiet with our heads down almost certain we had let a medal slip away... Then the officials called us to the awards dock, and our boat erupted in sheer excitement and relief. 10 long years." Dan Winston '09 continued, "we were the first Williams 2V to win a medal in a decade, and based on the age of our team, we know it won't be another ten years before it happens again."
Coach Lewis was proud of the crew, "they executed this very simple plan to perfection and raced out of their skins to secure a bronze medal, just a few feet ahead of a crew we had been a length behind one week ago."
The 1V was also energized by the performance of Williams' other boats. Their race was the greatest and most symbolic victory of the day.
Captain Rob Buesing recaptured the race: "We had a pretty decent start in the final, going up a half length on Trinity. However, Bates came out disgustingly fast off the start, something we were not expecting. They were a length up on us by the 750. We were nearly a length up on Trinity after we finished our move at 800.
When Trinity finally took their big move around the 1000, we went with them, with both of us taking off from the rest of the field, eliminating Bates remaining 3 seat lead in about 10 strokes. Importantly, Trinity didn't really take any seats back during their big move, our goal. With a 6 seat lead on Trinity and nearly a length on Bates going into the last 350, everyone in that boat knew there was no way we were going to lose that race. Trinity started their sprint around then, making a last ditch effort to get back at us. We went with them, and we pulled the 25 most painful and most satisfying strokes of my rowing career to finish 5 seats up on the crew previously thought to be unbeatable."
Coach Lewis was exceedingly proud. "The final went according to
plan against our main opposition Trinity but Bates nearly threw a
big spanner in the works by throwing everything at us in the first
2 minutes. All credit to Bates for their brave effort but I was
very impressed by the way we kept our heads and once we started
moving back on Bates I knew the race was ours."
Trinity had won the New England Championships for the last four or five years under their great coach Larry Gluckman. Coach Lewis went on further: "To win both the Charles and New England's is above our high standards and shows the level of dedication and talent in this group."
The men's crew was third in the overall points trophy behind Trinity and WPI. Fours races were also counted in the point totals. Williams women were undefeated in all of their races and the entire program walked away with the total points trophy.
Every single athlete that raced won a medal that day.
The crew will compete nationally in the ECAC regatta next weekend on the Cooper river in Camden, New Jersey. Coach Lewis is not the least bit phased: "looking to next week; we can go to ECAC with our heads held high and able to race without pressure, having achieved our aims for the season. We plan to step up again and see what happens!"
Watch the Williams Men's 1V boat receive their New England Champion trophy:
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