SARATOGA, N.Y. -- Williams women's crew wrapped up its fall season at the Head of the Fish. With the novices' first race, notoriously unpredictable conditions and the possibility of winning an actual fish head, the regatta is always exciting. The team fielded ten boats: two 1V collegiate eights, one collegiate 2V eight, one collegiate 3V eight, one novice eight, three collegiate fours, one novice four and one open double. One of the fours earned second, and all the boats placed eighth or higher in their categories. All competitors lucked out with surprisingly warm, dry and flat conditions for a late October race.
The two boats in the 1V category started off the day with a strong showing, finishing fourth and fifth, just under five seconds apart.
The first eight, which consisted of Georgia Ganser '22, Grace Goodall '22, Ella Napack '23, Madison LaCasse '22, Stephanie Brown '20, Erin Barry '23, Katrina Wheelan '23, Samantha Lazar '22 and Fiona Yonkman '20, went first with bow number two and was passed by MIT, finishing fourth with a time of 11:41.6.
"I think the energy from this piece gives us a lot to work with this winter and it will be exciting to make gains off the water so we can see them on the water in the spring," Lazar said.
As a new entry, the second eight started last in its category, placed in a strong position to gain on boats in front of them. The boat passed Stony Brook within the two hundred meters, and later passed Union and Iona in the last thousand meters. The boat, which ended with a time of 11:46.28, included Rebecca Tauber '21, Betsy Button '21, Catherine Powell '22, Anna Bruce '21, Olivia Straw '22, Lexi Copper '22, Liz Ostermeyer '22, Emma Wuerth '22 and Alameda Chapman '22.
"What's great about Head of The Fish is it's our last chance as a crew to really show what we've been working on all fall," Chapman said. "The race wasn't perfect but it was strong and powerful."
On the heels of the second eight was the 2V category, Williams leading the pack with bow number one. Although they were passed by Tufts and Marist, finishing sixth with a time of 12:40.5, they put on an impressive showing in the 2V category as the team's third eight, with a lineup of half experienced rowers and half novices. The boat consisted of Rosie Sokoll '22, Mia Kabillio '23, Rebecca Coyne '22, Sarah Dean '23, Miriam Harshberger '22, Rachel Morrow '22, Tricia De Souza '21, Emily Hugo '23 and Nicole Fernandes '21.
"I think our goal was to pull hard and leave it all out on the water," Harshberger said. "We definitely accomplished that, especially with half novices and in the 2V category."
Next up came the novice four, rowed by Amelia Smith '23, Greta Gruber '23, Caroline Orphanos '23, Sophie Moore '22 and Sarah Gantt '23, who finished fourth with a time of 14:46.27, only four seconds off third place.
"It was awesome to finally get to see the hard work we've put in all season pay off, and I think a lot of pieces fell into place for us today," Moore said. "We had a really great first race."
Ella Napack '23 and Erin Barry '23 kicked off the afternoon in a double, which they had only practiced in once before the race. They raced in the open category, which meant they went up against a range of competitors, including three doubles of Olympic hopefuls, and came in eighth with a time of 13:56.9.
"It was such a great end to the season to race in a double at this regatta," Napack said. "Erin and I competed against each other at nationals in the quad, so it was awesome to be able to scull together now that we are teammates. We had a lot of tough competition in the event but we had a lot of fun during our race."
Next, the novices raced in an eight, finishing fifth with a time of 13:15.6, only five seconds off third. The lineup included Julia Lim '23, Dean, Orphanos, Hugo, De Souza, Gruber, Isabel Zollinger '23, Moore and Alex Bonet '23.
"We consistently pulled hard and really unleashed what we have been working to build up this past season," Lim said. "Throughout the entire race the boat was more focused and united than every before and we truly felt like a team. We also finally got our first taste of the race high and we're excited to make some big moves in the spring."
The three collegiate fours concluded the day with a battle of the classes, with a sophomore, junior and mixed senior and sophomore four all racing on each other's heels. The juniors, consisting of Tauber, Button, Wheelan, Bruce and Lazar, won a second place medal with a time of 12:58.9. In an exciting chase, they caught the seniors and sophomores in front of them by the second half of the race, and the two boats sprinted side by side across the finish.
"We bobbled a little bit off the start but then created a solid rhythm and raced with our teammates in the four ahead of us which was fun," Bruce said. "It was very exciting to end the season with a second place finish."
The seniors and sophomores, including Ganser, Yonkman, Ostermeyer, LaCasse and Brown, ended in seventh with a time of 13:19.8.
"After a tough practice in the same lineup, we brought the rate down to base at a 30, which really helped us connect as a boat," Brown said.
The sophomores, consisting of Sokoll, Wuerth, Chapman, Cooper and Straw, finished in fifth with a time of 13:16.1, winning them a medal as the first B boat in the category.
"Coming off a rough piece last weekend, we were all determined to make this race feel gritty, strong and fun," Sokoll said. "That's exactly what we did, and I couldn't be more proud."
Head of the Fish concluded the fall season, which means the women now look to gain speed by erging indoors until they head to Myrtle Beach in March.