WORCESTER, Mass. -- All five crews entered from the Bates College rowing teams made the Grand Finals, marking an excellent day for the Bobcats Saturday at the New England Rowing Championships.
Three of Bates' boats came away with medals for top-three finishes -- the women's varsity eight won the silver medal, the men's second varsity eight won the bronze medal, the best ever showing for a Bates crew. The surprise of the day, said head coach Peter Steenstra, was the women's novice four, which won silver in Bates' first entry in the event. "They began the day with a routing of Maine Maritime, Roger Williams, and Brandeis, followed by a march through the field after a slow start to take the silver in the Grand Final," he said.
Perhaps the best race of the day was turned in by the men's varsity eight. Seated ninth coming into the weekend, they had a very difficult test in the morning heat with Trinity, Rhode Island, Wesleyan, and UMass-Amherst all ranked above them. But once again, the Bates men came through when it mattered most: late in the season. They finished second in the heat ahead of Wesleyan and URI to make the Grand Finals in convincing fashion. Finishing 5th in the Grands (ahead of Wesleyan, again) secured a qualifying spot in the ECAC/NIRC to be held this coming weekend in Worcester.
The men's second varsity eight had a best-ever finish for the Bobcats. The only crew to not have to qualify for the grands, when they did finally get to the race course they were chomping at the bit. Beating Williams the week prior meant that they were going to have a dogfight on their hands. Trinity was out early, but the two crews from Bates and Williams did not disappoint and had a great battle all the way down the 2000m course.
The women's varsity eightrepeated their second-place finish from last year. "Not bad for a 'rebuilding year,'", commented Steenstra. The heat went as anticipated, despite a charge by the women from University of New Hampshire. Bates didn't have to sprint but, UNH did feel the need to force the issue all the way down the course. UNH ended up finishing third in the Grand.
"The Grand was a great effort by our women," said Steenstra. "They actually took Williams off the line and led them through the first 500 meters of the race. To my knowledge this hasn't happened in quite some time." The Ephs had a strong move into the thousand meter mark to get ahead of Bates, and then inched away to end the race with a 6.4-second margin.
"We'll do it again at the ECAC regatta and then hope to have another shot in Sacramento for the NCAA Championships at the end of May," said Steenstra.
The Women's second varsity eight had a disappointing day, finishing behind four crews they had beaten previously in the regular season.
The ECAC/NIRC Regatta is a one-day event this year -- there won't be any racing until Sunday, May 9.