WILIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Williams men's crew packed up the boathouse the first week of November and have been putting in meters indoors on the erg ever since. After four and half months of conditioning, the indoor season concluded with the annual 2x2k workout on the erg—the two-kilometer distance being an imitation of the distance raced on the water. The Ephs fielded the largest squad in history with 43 active rowers. Of these rowers 35 will travel down to South Carolina with 5 coxswains for a two-week training trip.
With the trailer packed up and coaches off to South Carolina, the Ephs are finishing out their last days in Williamstown before the journey south, via vans and busses, in search of warmer weather and thawed bodies of water. The final destination is Briarcliffe RV Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC, where the Ephs enjoy unlimited water up and down the Intracostal Waterway. A blessing for the Ephs as their home course, Lake Onota, is still frozen over, as is most of the Northeast. The strokes down in South Carolina will be the first the rowers have taken since October.
This year's varsity squad is primarily composed of a ten strong senior class members that won two New England Championships last year and a deep sophomore class that won an ECAC Freshman National Championship. Though the program graduated six stalwart seniors, the sophomores have filled their shoes with energy and enthusiasm.
"It's been a number of years since we have had this many cumulative years of rowing experience on the squad," notes co-captain Sam Chapin '15. "Combined with our physical improvements, we hope we can translate these assets into speed on the water, which is ultimately what counts."
The team is led by co-captains Sam Chapin and Peter Awad and assisted by an experienced group of seniors including coxswain Maggie Hughes and oarsmen Neeko Gardner, Connor McLane, Isaiah Clark, and Alexander Nanda. Additionally, experienced seniors Marshall Akita, Philip von Hahn, and Aidyn Osgood returned from Oxford University in the U.K. to provide some great speed after a hard year of training. The junior class, though small, provides valuable boat experience with Logan Jester, Phil Oung, Chaewon Kim and Nick Romer representing. The sophomore class retained nearly all rowers from the prior year, so the guys bring a certain level of camaraderie that is helpful.
The Ephs are led by head coach Peter Wells '79 who is entering his 33rd year coaching the Eph crew. Wells remarked on the high level of internal competition and independence of the guys this year as strengths of the team. He really feels the energy level is high, but that guys are approaching training and racing in a more mature and experienced way. Coach Wells also noted the academic diligence of the team, with seven of 10 seniors pursuing theses; the Ephs are looking to find success on and off the water.
On this fall's performances, senior Marshall Akita commented, "I think we walked away from the fall a little disappointed with the results on the water, but appreciative of the experience it afforded us. We are looking to grow from those performances and really develop a superior level of consistency to our speed." Sophomore Michael Polson added, "spring racing is a whole different animal mentally and physically than the fall, so we have put those races in the past and are staring down the barrel of a new challenge."
Speaking of new challenges, the novice freshmen spent the fall learning how to row and are chomping at the bit to get back on the water. Led by second year assistant coach Joe Gartland, the freshmen Ephs are a high energy and physically imposing bunch. The squad has three experienced rowers and an experienced coxswain with the remainder having walked on at the beginning of the year.
This year the Ephs will not see a home race. Currently the Ephs first race is planned for Saturday, April 4th in Philadelphia on the Ephs' return trip back north. The Ephs are set to see St. Joe's, Temple, and Drexel in two different races on the Schuylkill River.