Preview: Old-timers, defending champs and past runners-up set for races
The Division III rowing championship begins May 30 and concludes May 31 in Indianapolis with the Indiana Sports Corporation and Notre Dame serving as hosts.
The championships are comprised of six teams and each team is required to field two boats of eight rowers and a coxswain. Two at-large Eights also are selected. The following are the berths that are allocated: Pool A -- two (Pool A consists of conferences that have been awarded automatic qualification); Pool B/C – four (Pools B and C include independents, institutions from conferences that do not meet automatic-qualification standards and Pool A institutions that did not receive their conference’s automatic qualification.).
The collective Puget Sound women's crew team took second at the 2003 championships to kick off the run, and the women's varsity 8+ boat finished second place in the grand final that year as well.
Joining Puget Sound at the championship are defending national champions, Williams.
Kate Maloney's Williams team has been selected as an at-large.
Maloney in her third year at the helm of the Ephs will be taking her third Eph team to the championship event, which Williams has won the past eight years under four different head coaches.
Williams is making its 11th consecutive appearance in the Division III event and previously had qualified for the NCAA Women's Rowing Championship five times before the Division III event was created in 2002.
The 2013 runner-up, Bates, will also be joining the regatta.
For the past five years, as everyone at Bates seems to know, the Bobcat crew has tasted greatness with a national runner-up finish. Each of those years represents the closest a Bates team has ever come to winning an NCAA championship, but each of those years Williams has been better.
Even so, Steenstra said of his crew, "They know this is certainly a winnable race for them, and they have every expectation of performing at a level that will produce a win." Added the sixth-year head coach, "For the first time, [Williams is] the underdog and we are expected to win. That's never been the case before."
Much of Bates' confidence this year derives from the team's dominant display two weeks ago at the National Invitational Rowing Championship, which also serves as ECAC and NESCAC championship regatta. For the first time at the regatta, Bates' first varsity eight (WV8) won the grand final, by an impressive margin of 3.677 seconds. Bates' second eight (W2V8) put down the hammer in its grand final, beating second-place Trinity by 8.205 seconds, with Wesleyan and Williams well behind the Bantams. Bates' W3V8, too, won its grand final by over 8 seconds, with an exceptional time of 6:57.532, and Bates' open four made it a clean sweep for the Bobcats. All told, 36 Bates student-athletes competed at the regatta and all 36 returned home with gold medals.
In addition to these three crew teams, Washington (Md.), Trinity (Conn.), Wellesley, Wesleyan and William Smith will be competing in the championship.