The William Smith College rowing team won gold medals in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, and novice eight and won its fifth consecutive Liberty League Championship on Fish Creek Friday, April 24th.
For the first time since the inaugural championship in 2004, the Liberty League used a point system based on finish in the varsity eight and second varsity eight races to determine the conference champion. From 2006 through 2014, the Liberty League Championship was based solely on the result of the varsity eight race.
With seven entries in this year’s varsity eight event, William Smith had to finish in the top two of its heat or have one of the two fastest remaining times to progress to the final. Susan Tuvell, Anola Stage, Caroline DeWeirdt, Emily Andersen, Emma Dow, Karoline Loretan, Laurie VanBenschoten, Alex Belden, and Morgan Burgess had no trouble in the heat, clipping their chief rival, RIT, at the line. The Herons, ranked 11th in the latest coaches poll, posted a winning time of 7:51.09, 0.25 seconds ahead of the No. 13 Tigers. Union, which also progressed to the final, was third and St. John Fisher fourth. Rochester, St. Lawrence, and Skidmore reached the final from the second heat.
In the final, William Smith got off the line in good form and built a six-seat lead on RIT in the first half of the race. The Tigers reeled the Herons in in the second half of the race, leading to a thrilling sprint that saw William Smith clock in at 7:26.2, 1.2 seconds faster than RIT.
“We were very good at taking the mistakes we made in the heat and minimizing them in the final,” Head Coach Sandra Chu said. “This boat had good heart last weekend and displayed even better heart today.”
The second varsity eight race did not feature any of the drama of the varsity eight race. Rachael Brown, Carissa Boire, Maggie Santinelli, Paige Brunner, Jennifer Sullivan, Aly Clark, Sophia Wensberg, Eliza Orrick, and Grace Hutton grabbed an early lead and walked away from the field, crossing the finish line in 8:01.3. The Herons enjoyed an open water margin back to second place RIT (8:19.47) with an even larger gap back to third place Rochester.
The William Smith novice eight of Alyssa Deem, Kylie Wyskochil, Emily O’Brien, Emily Smith, Elizabeth Warren, Katherine Hesler, Nicole Guardino, Lauren Pomerantz, and Alexandra Townsend also posted an open-water win, logging a winning time of 8:21.02, nearly eight seconds ahead of second place RIT.
The varsity four of Brianna Taylor, Megan Miskovsky, Monika von Brauchitsch, Margaret Cameron, and Tamsin Smith enjoyed the largest margin of victory for William Smith. They finished 21.05 seconds ahead of the field, logging a time of 9:09.3. Union was second and Rochester was third.
Chu was encouraged by the open-water wins of the second varsity eight, varsity four, and novice eight.
“Those wins are a testament to the depth of our program,” Chu said. “The varsity four, in particular, did a fantastic job of putting it all together on very little practice this week due to injury and illness.”
The Herons will be back in action on May 2-3 when they compete in the New York State Rowing Championships in Whitney Point, N.Y.