WEST WINDSOR, N.J. — Going into the NCAA Rowing Championships Williams College first year head coach Kate Maloney had one request of her team: “Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.” That is exactly what they did as both Varsity 1 and Varsity 2 boats won their Grand Finals this morning, giving Williams a record seventh consecutive NCAA title.
“We had a team meeting last night and I told them how proud I was of their resiliency and their consistency,” stated Kate Maloney. “I told them that they had to be prepared for Bates and William Smith to throw the kitchen sink at them and they should be prepared for them [Bates and William Smith] to go harder after them than they expected. Both of our boats responded beautifully.”
“The 2V had a little easier time and got out and rowed away with it,” Maloney added. “The 1V was solid and consistent throughout.”
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The Ephs have now won eight of the 11 NCAA titles awarded in NCAA Division III. Both the Eph Varsity 1 and Varsity 2 boats won their last nine races of the year and Varsity 1 won all 12 of its races this year, including the Collegiate Eights at the Head of the Charles for the third time in four years.
Neither of the two Williams boats trailed in either race on Friday in the prelims and the same was true on Saturday. Early on in both races the Eph crews asserted their power and speed and by the time the races settled into race pace they had sizable leads from which to maintain their command of the race.
The Eph Varsity 2 took to the course first and had to deal with some gusty winds around the 1250–meter mark, but by then they had manufactured an open water lead.
Earlier at 500 meters the Ephs began to distance themselves from the field as they pulled out to almost a boat length lead.
“This is the race of our lives. Everything we’d been working on had led us to that this moment,” senior 5-seat in the 2V Sara Wallace said about being up at 500 meters. “We were faster individually and as a unit and that’s why we were there and we are going to go faster. We had a lot of forward momentum and we were all extremely focused.”
By 1750 meters the Ephs had constructed a lead of a half boat length of open water and they maintained that through the finish, crossing in 6:49.74.
Bates was second in 6:58.34, with Wellesley third (7:01.83) and Trinity took fourth (7:04.24).
By the time the Varsity 1 took to the water they were the beneficiaries of a southwest wind that would be behind them the length of the course.
Bates opened the race with a 41-stroke per minute start, but the Ephs were up to the task and held a slight lead after 250 meters. At 500 meters the Ephs had a growing lead of three seats that then went to five seats by 750 meters.
Halfway through the race at 1000 meters Eph coxswain Fiona Wilkes was sitting on the bow balls of both Bates and William Smith who were battling for second place.
Around 1500 meters the Eph lead was expanded to 8 seats and that was the lead that they would control for the final 500 meters. The Eph Varsity 1 has now won the eights title race four consecutive years with Bates second each year.
“We went out really hard off the start and got a slight lead and kept kind of pushing it out as both Bates and William Smith were pushing us from behind,” noted junior V1 bow Dana Golden. “William Smith and Bates took some impressive moves, but we were able to hold them and widen our lead.”
“We’re just so lucky to have such a strong team and to have a 2V that is so strong that they can push us and we push them, so we both keep improving,” Golden noted. “We had so many alums and rowers here to support us and many more watching the webcast – it was a win for them too!”
“Each NCAA title is just as exciting as the one before and we will go into next year with our heads down, driven, and with our passion for the sport,” said Golden, who along with classmate Kat Amano, the bow in V2, will captain the 2012-13 Ephs.
Williams Varsity 1 finished in 6:31.98, which was 3.16 seconds ahead of Bates (6:35.14). William Smith took third in 6:35.94, while Wellesley claimed fourth (6:41.00), Marietta was fifth (6:44.40) and Trinity came in sixth (6:53.28).
“I’m just so ecstatic right now,” said Maloney. “I’m so happy for the seniors continuing the success. It’s so hard to keep this tradition going and these kids have had three coaches in the last four years. I couldn’t blame them for being jaded having had to trust yet another new face and new message, but they believed in themselves, so hats off to them for carrying on a tradition that gets harder and harder each year without the benefit of stability.”