ITHACA, N.Y. -- Ranked seventh in the nation in the latest coaches poll, the William Smith rowing team opened the spring season with a bang, defeating No. 2 Ithaca in all three varsity races on the Cayuga Inlet Sunday. The Heron varsity eight's 5.1 second victory against the Bombers marked William Smith's first spring season win against its in-state rival since 2007.

The Heron varsity eight of Kim Goral, Liz Hafer, Maggie Smith, Lauren Blake-Whitney, Tess Wiggins, Claire Brown, Sarah Gordon, Alayna Beebe, and Jess Steketee posted a 2,000-meter time of 6:45.1 for an open water victory against Ithaca, which crossed the line in 6:50.2. William Smith grabbed the lead off the line and steadily walked away from the Bombers.

The second varsity eight charged off the line building a significant lead by the midway point of the race, but needed a strong sprint to hold on for the victory. Christine Babcock, Libby Hughes, Crary Chandler, Alaria Pizzo, Katie Paige, Sinead Reilly, Kara Ruskin, Leila Peraro, and Alyssa Trebilcock finished in 7:02.5, 1.6 seconds ahead of Ithaca.

In the third varsity eight race, William Smith again got the lead off the line, but Ithaca moved back into contention with a strong third 500. The Herons responded to the challenge and held on for a 1.8-second victory. Emily Davidowitz, Jenna Lohre, Sara Hollingshead, Laura Cappio, Grace Walter, Rebecca Charlton, Ava Pavao, Madison Finley, and Megan Ulin logged a time of 7:35.2.

In the novice eight race, William Smith was leading near the 1,000 meter mark, but got too close to a bridge abutment, hitting its oars. The Herons were forced to come to a complete stop and adjust their course before returning to race speed. The course correction cost the crew its lead. Ithaca's top novice crew won the race in 7:18.7. William Smith came home in 7:27.0 with Ithaca's B entry finishing third in 8:11.9.

"I was extraordinarily impressed with the way this squad used the challenges we've faced in practice as a confidence builder to go down the course," Heron head coach Sandra Chu said. "This squad is deep and today's results show that."