WILLIAMSTOWN, MA--The Ephs traveled to Onota Lake for an overcast morning race against rivals Wesleyan Cardinals for the Little Three Championships. Amherst has skipped the race in recent years so Williams only raced against Wesleyan for the race. The Little Three race has been contested annually since 1969, a continuation of the racing tradition between Williams and Wesleyan that began in the 1870's. The first varsity race opened up action for the day, followed by the second varsity then the freshmen eight.
The first race of the day was the first varsity eight. Lining up even with Wesleyan in a cove on the far side of Onota, the Ephs waited for the official's signal. Upon the signal to go, the Ephs struggled through the starting section and fell several seats behind the Wesleyan boat. Despite this setback, the Ephs stayed strong and calm. Through the middle of the race the Ephs sat up and connected for strong strokes. Slowly they pulled back even with the Cardinals boat. As they entered the the final stretch coxswain Devin Flynn '18 called for the Ephs sprint and the Ephs battled Wesleyan neck and neck towards the finish line. Both boats drove across the finish line nearly even, but despite their best efforts the Ephs fell to the Cardinals by half a second.
Captain Graham Buchan '17 had this to say about the race: "The 1V rowed an incredibly tight race for the full length of the course. Exchanging leads with Wesleyan several times throughout the race the Cardinals were able to clinch the win by 0.4 seconds. The Ephs are looking forward to a hard week of training with new technical changes to focus on and are excited to see Wesleyan again in two weeks at New England Rowing Championships."
The next race of the day was the 2V. The Ephs battled the Cardinal boat valiantly through the opening section of the race, but fell behind through the race. As they race dragged on the Cardinals demonstrated a strong base of fitness and sped up through the middle of the piece. The Cardinals used their extra speed to pull away from the Ephs and finish on top.
To round out the day the Ephs freshmen boat lined up against the Wesleyan 3V. At the start the Ephs connected for a strong and smooth starting sequence before shifting down to their base rate for the race. The Cardinals experience showed during the start, as they pulled ahead by two seats through 400 meters. The Ephs dug in and used their fitness to battle back to even at the 1000 meter mark. From there the Ephs executed their race plan, launching a decisive move to walk through the Cardinal crew. The Ephs pulled ahead and sprinted through the finish line with open water between them and the Cardinals boat.
Six seat Jack Ellrodt remarked that "We were finally able to pair our physical capabilities with mental fortitude, allowing us to push and continue building through the second 1000."
The 2V was stroked by Aaron Finder '17. Finder had this to say about the day's action: "Overall it was a rough day of racing, but something we can definitely build on. With one of the members of the varsity unfortunately missing racing this weekend for personal reasons, we made it work with what we had. We all went out and raced hard, each boat coming away with positives on the day, as well as clear areas to work on heading into the home stretch of the season. We all obviously wanted to beat Wesleyan - this is the most historic race we get all season - but we know we will see them again, and turn those margins around in our favor. The freshmen 8 deserve a lot of credit today, showing great spirit and getting their first collegiate win."
The Ephs will be back in action next week at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, MA racing against Holy Cross. They will line up against Wesleyan again in two weeks at the New England Rowing Championships.