The William Smith College rowing team swept the 2011-12 Liberty League postseason awards. For the second straight season, the Herons were voted the Crew of the Year, the Novice Crew of the Year and the Coaching Staff of the Year awards.
The William Smith varsity eight of junior coxswain Kim Goral, junior stroke Liz Hafer, sophomore Sinead Reilly, sophomore Lauren Blake-Whitney, junior Sarah Gordon, sophomore Katie Paige, senior Tess Wiggins, sophomore Alyssa Trebilcock and junior bow Jess Steketee was tabbed the Crew of the Year. They captured the conference championship by an impressive 12.69 seconds over the runner-up, covering the 2,000-meter Fish Creek course in 7:22.0.
Goral, Hafer, Blake-Whitney, Gordon, Paige, Wiggins, and Steketee also earned the Crew of the Year award last season. Wiggins (2009), Goral (2010), Hafer (2010), Gordon (2010), and Reilly (2011) are also former Novice Crew of the Year honorees.
In addition to a dominating performance against the Liberty League, the William Smith varsity eight also captured gold medals at the Head of the Genesee and the New York State Championships. They brought home a silver medal at the Head of the Fish and secured a bronze at the ECAC NIRC. The Herons capped their season by finishing third in the grand final at the NCAA Division III Rowing Championship.
William Smith’s varsity eight was named the Liberty League Boat of the Week 10 times this season.
The Heron novice eight of first-years Melanie Baltzer, Morgan Burgess, Emily Andersen, Emma Dow, Alexandra Clark, Kristen Brayden, Eliza Orrick, Alanna Dugan, and Emma Tiedemann proved to be the class of the conference, winning with a time of 7:55.1, more than a minute better than the second place crew. William Smith also earned a bronze medal in the New York State Championships and progressed to the grand final of the ECAC NIRC, finishing sixth.
Head Coach Sandra Chu earned her sixth Coaching Staff of the Year award in nine seasons. (The award was inaugurated in 2003-04, her second season at William Smith.) This year’s Herons won the Liberty League varsity eight, second varsity eight and novice eight races, placed all four of its entries on the medal stand at the New York State Championships, and earned a bronze medal in the varsity eight at the ECAC NIRC. William Smith earned its fourth team bid to the NCAA Championship under Chu’s leadership (the Herons also sent an at-large eight to the championship in 2010). William Smith finished fourth as a team on the strength of a third place effort by the varsity eight and a fifth place showing by the second varsity eight.
Chu was also voted the ECAC and CRCA Division III Coach of the Year this season. She was assisted by Jodi Hope and Ford Weiskittel.