Worcester, MA — Williams Men's Crew charged into championship season with a solid showing at the New England Rowing Championships, with both the 1V and the 3V bringing home medals.
Time trials and heats for seeding in the afternoon's finals were held in the morning. The novices in the 4+ were first up, entered in the 3V4+ event. In their time trial the novices struggled to adapt to a tricky cross tail wind and missed out on qualifying for the grand final by 7 seconds. Undeterred, the 4+ attacked their petite final with ferocity. The Ephs and UConn dropped the rest of the field, and battled down the course for the win. UConn pulled away through the middle 1000 but the novices showed their grit by making a strong push to try and reel the Huskies back in during the final 500. Alas, their sprint fell short and the Ephs had to settle for second in the petite final, beating the rest of the field by a considerable margin. Williams finished in 7:16, 4 seconds off of winner UConn.
Asher Ladsay '21 felt that "we struggled with the conditions and remaining composed in the first race, but came back strong in our second race."
The 3V also began the day with a time trial, barely sneaking into the Grand Final with a time of 5:15.4, just .7 over a seventh place Tufts novice boat that beat them last week (the time trial was shortened from the standard 2000 meters). With their spot in the Grand Final secure, Williams looked to make the most of their earned opportunity in the afternoon.
The Ephs were sluggish off the line and lagged towards the back of the field as Boston College A charged to a half length lead through the 500 meter mark. Used to rowing from behind, the Ephs kept their composure and began to move back on the field in the second 500. With a strong rhythm, the Ephs set themselves up for a powerful surge halfway through the race where they moved through Boston College B and the Wesleyan boat that defeated them two weeks ago at Little Three's. With a clean sprint, the Ephs secured a bronze medal behind Boston College A and Tufts A. Williams finished in 6:28, 8 seconds back from BC and 3 back from Tufts.
Matt Bock '20 was proud of how his boat built speed through the piece: "We did well to execute our race plan, stay with our pace, and commit to building speed from the beginning to the end of the race. It felt good to finally respond after a tough loss to Wesleyan at Little Three's." The youngsters in the 3V have showed remarkable progress even from just several weeks ago, defeating many crews who beat them earlier in the season. It will be exciting to see what they can do next race with another week to build speed.
The 2V put together two extremely tight races that saw both results come right down to the wire. In the morning the Ephs faced a tough heat that included Boston College and a Tufts crew that they fell to by 18 seconds last week. Williams felt that they had yet to show their true ability in a race this season, and hoped to surprise their opponents with a breakout race that reflected their ability. The Ephs did just that off the start of their heat, jumping out to a half length lead on the entire field through the first 500. Undaunted, the Eagles from Boston College slowly walked back through Tufts then Williams to take the lead through the midway point in the race. Through the 1200 meter mark Williams held their half length lead on Tufts, but cracks began to show in the final third, and the Jumbos began to claw their way back into contention for second place and the final slot in the afternoon's grand final. The Ephs came into the final 500 with a razor thin lead on the Jumbos, as both crews furiously sprinted to the finish from 500 out. Trading bow balls through the red buoys, the Jumbos had a bit more left in their legs for the sprint, edging the Ephs by a seat at the line in a heartbreaker. Williams finished third with a time of 6:09.6, behind Tufts in 6:09.0 and BC in 6:07.0. The Ephs time was fourth of all crews in morning heats, with the second, third, and fourth fastest times of the morning coming in their heat.
In the petite final the Ephs were joined by Trinity, who held the morning's sixth fastest time in 6:10.0 and lost by only .05 to WPI in their morning heat. With both crews looking to avenge their morning defeats, the final was sure to be fiercely competitive. The Ephs launched off the line with another ferocious start, hitting the fastest split coxswain Alison Robey '20 had ever seen in a boat she has coxed. Trinity answered with their own strong start, falling back only a seat off the start, while the rest of the field fell back. Williams had a strong shift and continued to pull up on Trinity, building to a half length lead by the midpoint of the race and a 6 seat lead with 650 to go. Coming into the final 500 Trinity began to move back and the morning looked like it could repeat itself. Both crews ferociously sprinted as Trinity continued to chip away at the Ephs lead. Scorching through the final stretch, Trinity ran out of water as the Ephmen held off the Bantam sprint, winning by .5 seconds in 6:12.1. Had the Ephs qualified for the Grand Final held immediately after their race, their time would have been good for a silver medal and Trinity's would have been good for bronze. Bates won the Grand Final in 6:05.
Adam Bocker '20 was proud of his crew for finally putting together two races that represented their ability, but still feels there is work to be done: "It's about time, but it wasn't perfect. We have room to improve for next week."
The 1V enjoyed a relatively drama free heat, placing second in a time of 6:02, 6 seconds behind Bates and 4 seconds ahead of third place Colby. In the grand final Williams lined up against many familiar foes including Bates, WPI, and Tufts, all of whom had defeated Williams earlier in the season. Looking to avenge their early season defeats when it counts, Williams launched off the line in a start that saw year high blazingly fast splits off the high strokes, similar to the 2V. As they have done all season, Bates showed their speed by pushing their bow ball out to an early lead through the first 500 as the Ephs fell into the middle of the pack duking it out with new foes UMass and Boston College, and ahead of old rivals WPI and Tufts. The pack was incredibly tight through the base of the piece, with silver up for anyone to take as Bates pushed further into the lead. Coming through the final 500 BC began to push open a lead on Williams and UMass, as the unfamiliar opponents continued the Williams 2V trends of putting on exciting races for the spectators. The Ephs struck first during the sprint, pushing their bow ball out ahead of the Minutemen with just 100 meters to go. In a final desperate push for hardware, the Minutemen surged back and appeared to pull even as they crossed the finish line. From shore it was anyone's guess who had taken the bronze. Minutes later, cheers erupted from the Williams section on the beach as the announcers read off the results, with Williams edging UMass by just .2 seconds, 6:06.3 to 6:06.5. Williams finished behind Bates who took gold in 5:58.9 and BC who took silver in 6:03.6.
Daniel Queen '21 is proud of how his team raced and had improved all year: "We were pretty even and then we sneaked out a cheeky third place, which is good seeing how much we've improved since the fall."
Head Coach Marc Mandel was very satisfied with how his team carried themselves today: "I'm really proud of the resilience our athletes have shown all year. Today's performances are simply a reflection of the entire team's effort from September to now."
Today's results are encouraging but there is still work to be done, as Williams closes out their season at NIRC's back in Worcester next Friday.