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First Varsity Eight, Women's Rowing

The Bates women's varsity eight (right) won the grand final at the National Invitational Rowing Championships on May 12, 2017, clinching a NESCAC title along the way. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

The No. 1 nationally ranked Bates women's rowing team won the grand final in both varsity eights and second varsity eights on Friday at the National Invitational Rowing Championships, claiming its third NESCAC title and earning the automatic bid to compete in the NCAA Division III Championships for an 11th straight year.

The varsity eights (WV8) grand final was an exciting one and possibly a preview of the NCAA Championships in two weeks. Bates finished the 2,000-meter course 0.401 seconds ahead of runner-up and fourth-ranked Williams, 6:45.422 to 6:45.823, while No. 3 Ithaca was right behind in third place at 6:46.169. No. 6 Wellesley took fourth place (6:54.104), followed by No. 7 Tufts (6:55.290) and No. 2 Wesleyan (6:57.632) in sixth.

By defeating fellow New England Small College Athletic Conference boats from Williams, Tufts and Wesleyan in the WV8 grand final, Bates claimed its third NESCAC Championship, and its third in the past four years. Winning the conference title gained the Bobcats automatic qualification for the six-team Division III Championships taking place May 26-27 at Mercer Lake, New Jersey.

WV8: Laura Rand (bow), Emma WheelerGrace MurnaghanOlivia StocklyRosemary KyneLena RintellHannah FittsMolly Pritz (stroke); Katherine Traquina (cox).