SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY - The Head of the Fish regatta is always a wild ending to the season for Williams' Women's Crew. 2,124 boats of all levels competed throughout the day; the Williams women had 9 boats of their own entered. Many freshmen were rowing for the first time, many rowers competed in multiple events, and the team had a strong conclusion to their fall season overall.
The 1V started off the day with a strong second place, cranking out a time of 12:11 and finishing just two seconds behind the first-place Wesleyan crew. "Our boat rowed aggressively despite the strong winds," says coxswain Ava Palmo. "Although it was tough to get second by such a small margin, I'm proud of our performance and excited to come back strong in the spring."
The wind mentioned by Palmo only worsened throughout the day, despite otherwise warm and sunny conditions in Saratoga. The 2V crews were the next to turn onto the course to begin the race. The strong headwind challenged them all the way down, but all boats focused on internal rhythm and getting their blades into the water against the wind. With three boats entered in the 2V race, Williams made a strong statement. The first 2V, with a lineup of coxswain Brittany Chung, stroke Stephanie Brown, Brynn Moynihan, Annie Rush, Fiona Yonkman, Emily Saulnier, Kate Latimore, Ria Hanson, and bow Katrina Wheelan, finished third with a time of 12:44. The second 2V, coxed by Louisa Abel, passed two boats to come across the line as the first B boat entered in the category. They had a time of 14:00. And the third "2V" boat, composed entirely of novice freshmen rowing their first ever race, made Williams proud by knocking out some experienced 2Vs with a time of 14:56.
"Because it was my first time competing in a regatta, I had no idea what to expect," says novice rower Betsy Button. She mirrored the sentiments of the team by saying, "I absolutely loved seeing all the other teams and cheering on other Williams' boats. Everyone's energy was infectious, and it reminded me why we put so many hours into training. It felt like it all finally came together in the race. I'm so proud of the novices for working so hard this fall!"
Just to make the last racing day of the season interesting, most rowers continued on with double or triple races. Freshmen Katherine Melkonian, Brynn Moynihan, Sam Lazar, and Katrina Wheelan hot-seated directly into a novice fours event from their eights races. Coxed by Rebecca Tauber, they showed no sign of weariness and took first place by over a minute with a time of 16:12. Bow seat Katrina Wheelan was excited about her first head race: "It was a fun day of racing. The race was a bit chaotic, but it was a beautiful day and the team rowed well."
The Williams women also raced a novice eight and sophomore, junior, and senior fours. The novice eight took second place behind Tufts. "I think it was awesome! Even though none of us had ever rowed together before it was cool to see everyone so excited to row and so hungry to do well," said freshmen Sam Lazar after her third race of the day. The remainder of the women racing in the afternoon showed the incredible depth of the Williams team by placing second, third, and fifth in the Collegiate 4+ category. Full results and times are hyperlinked above.
The team has one more week of practice left on the water at Lake Onota. After that, they'll move inside until their spring break training trip in Myrtle Beach South Carolina.