The William Smith College rowing team completed an exceptional season with a fourth place finish in the NCAA Division III Rowing Championship today. The Herons placed third in the varsity eight grand final and won the second varsity eight petite final.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the year to put this team on the podium at the national championships and, coming into the weekend, we knew that it was going to be a hard road. We knew that both boats needed to gain some speed. And to see them do that this weekend and take that team goal all the way through to the end to really care, about what each person was achieving and not just each individual pulling herself was aparent in every single stroke in today’s racing.”
A two-boat race, the second varsity eight petite final was a showdown between William Smith and Marietta College. The Pioneers and Herons had squared off three previous times this season with Marietta winning each of the previous three. Today, William Smith was on a mission.
The Pioneers seized the lead off the line and held a two-seat lead through 500 meters. The Herons started to take back some of that edge in the second 500 and had reduced the advantage to just a deck length at the mid-point of the race. In the third 500 William Smith seized the lead and walked it out to six seats by the finish line.
Sophomore Emily Davidowitz, senior Claire Brown, senior Maggie Smith, sophomore Elizabeth Hughes, first-year Caroline DeWeirdt, junior Laura Cappio, junior Emily Shelden, first-year Anola Stage, and first-year Amanda Reusch brought the second varsity eight home in 7:00.96, 2.07 seconds ahead of Marietta.
In the varsity eight grand final, third-ranked William Smith squared off against No. 1 Williams, No. 2 Bates, No. 4 Wellesley, No. 5 Trinity (Conn.), and No. 7 Marietta.
The Ephs led wire-to-wire on their way to a seventh consecutive national championship, winning in 6:31.98. The Bobcats and Herons kept in contact with the defending national championship and battled right down to the finish for second place on the podium. With about 600 meters to go, Bates made a move, building an advantage over William Smith. The Herons, led by stroke seat, junior Liz Hafer, poured everything they had into the stretch run to close the gap. At the finish line, only 0.8 seconds seperated the two crews. Bates held on to second place with a time of 6:35.14. William Smith took third in 6:35.94. The Blue were a distant fourth in 6:41.02 followed by Marietta and Trinity.
The varsity eight was powered by junior Kim Goral, Hafer, sophomore Sinead Reilly, sophomore Lauren Blake-Whitney, junior Sarah Gordon, sophomore Katie Paige, senior Tess Wiggins, sophomore Alyssa Trebilcock and junior Jess Steketee.
“As coach, I couldn’t be prouder of the team,” Chu said. “All of them, all the kids that traveled to the championship and the kids that didn’t get to travel, and the season that they had. This was a capstone achievement for our program. I feel very strongly that It speaks volumes about the character and committment of the women on the team, but in particular, their hunger, their quest to make William Smith rowing the very best if can be.”