WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS-- Yesterday was NIRCs: National Invitational Rowing Championships. This event is the last regatta of the regular season for the Williams women, and a strong performance can clinch a bid to NCAAs later this month. WWC was able to field 5 boats, and every healthy rower on the roster was able to compete in the 1V, 2V, 3V, 4V, or four.
The 4+ had no idea what to expect out of their open four event, the first race of the day for the team. Stroke Grace Chamberlin, Lilia Rabinowitz, Rachel Morrow, Abbey Murray-Stark, and rower-turned-coxswain Georgia Ganser knew boats of any skill level or speed could enter the event. The women, having never rowed in their lineup prior to practice the day before, went into the race with a goal of making it to the Grand Final. They were last off the line at the start, but maintained connection with the field of boats. With 700 meters to go, the women were neck and neck with Simmons and battling for the third place spot which would send them to Grands. They walked through the Simmons boat and finished 3 seconds ahead of them. Their time of 8:29.6 was fast enough to clinch a spot in the Grand Final.
The 4+ was seeded 6th in their final. Ganser, who could count the number of times she'd been in a coxswain seat on one hand, radiated confidence as the women rowed to the line. They wanted to get out of the start more quickly, and repeat their commitment to making the third 500 (usually the hardest of the race) the best 500 meters of the piece. Over the 1000m mark, Ganser reminded the rowers to smile, and love for the sport and for each other carried them through the final meters. With 400 meters to go, they knew they had to empty the tank and try to walk on the boat that had pulled ahead in the next lane. The Williams women were almost bow ball to bow ball when they crossed the finish line, finishing just .4 seconds behind Smith. They finished in 5th place, 15 seconds ahead of William Smith and 4 places ahead of their #9 seed.
Two Williams boats got to line up together for the next heat of the day. There was no women's 4V category this weekend, so the 4V raced up in the 3V category. The 3V and 4V raced in the same heat. Rosie Sokoll coxed Alameda Chapman, Crystal Ma, Rebecca Coyne, Stephanie Brown, Amelia Jamond, Sydney Pope, Nicole Fernandes and Miriam Harshberger in the 4V. They came in 4th with a time of 7:36.3, earning a spot in the Petite Final.
After having a lengthy race delay due to breakage in another boat, the Williams women rallied and went even faster in their final. They made it down the course in 7:34.7 and finished in second place, only .54 seconds behind Wesleyan. This put them in 8th place overall in the 3V category, an impressive feat for the fiery 4V.
Rebecca Tauber, Grace Goodall, Harper Johnson, Liz Ostermeyer, Maddy LaCasse, Lexi Cooper, Kate Latimore, Liv Straw, and Emma Wuerth made a statement in their 3V heat. They threw down a total time of 7:06.7, the fastest of all three heats.
The strong women raced in the Grand Final against Bates, Smith, WPI, Wellesley, and Tufts. The 3V finished in 7:02.9, showing the depth of the team with a time that was only .3 seconds behind the Williams 1V time. This also would have put them in second place in the 2V Grand Final. The victory was extra sweet because the Williams 3V lost to Bates by .3 seconds last weekend, but beat them by 4 seconds today to claim the gold medal. "We found a lot of speed this past week," says coxswain Rebecca Tauber, "especially working on our sprint. And we were really ready to go, even though we knew we had our work cut out for us in the Grand Final. I'm really proud of all of us for getting it done."
There's a tradition of throwing winning coxswains into the water, and Tauber had the distinct honor of getting tossed into Lake Quinsigamond on a 40 degree day. Since the weather was treating all participants and spectators to a day-long downpour, she may not have been significantly more wet than anyone else at the course, but she was likely much happier about it.
The 2V did what they needed to do in their morning heat to make it to the Grand Final. Morgan Whaley, Masa Peterson, Catherine Powell, Josie Maynard, Anna Bruce, Katrina Wheelan, Annie Rush, Maddie Dyke, and Betsy Button placed second, behind Wesleyan, with a time of 7:06.3.
Conditions deteriorated throughout the afternoon, and all crews were striving to stay warm and dry in the pouring rain and gusts of wind. The 2V women battled it out with Bates, Tufts, Wesleyan, Wellesley, and WPI in their afternoon final. They completed the race in 7:13.05, 3 seconds behind Wesleyan and just 1 second ahead of Wellesley in tight finish. Bates took first place, ten seconds ahead of any other crew, and the Williams women just missed the medals dock with a 4th place finish.
The 1V had a late start to their morning with an 11:20am heat. Ava Palmo coxed Sam Lazar, Maddy Boutet, Eileen Russell, Julia Mini, Fiona Yonkman, Caroline Kessler, Diana Matthiessen, and Brynn Moynihan on this final regular-season race day. In an incredibly tight heat, the Williams women finished third. They were just 1 second behind Wesleyan and less than 2 seconds behind WPI with a time of 6:52.3. Only the top 2 boats from each heat advance to the Grand Final, so the 1V entered the Petite Final.
The last race of the day for the women's time was this Petite Final. The Williams crew raced against Smith, William Smith, Tufts, Colby, and Trinity. The 1V raced down the course with a total time of 7:02.6, finishing in 2nd place behind the Smith College crew. This amounts to an 8th place finish overall.
Full results can be found here: http://nirc.qra.org/ The women find out tomorrow if their season performance was enough to earn a spot at Nationals. If so, the 1V and 2V will continue training and compete in the D3 Rowing Championships in Indianapolis from May 31st-June 1st.