WORCESTER, Mass. -- 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.
Bates' second varsity eight (W2V8), which will also play a major role in Bates' quest for a second NCAA championship, won its grand final handily, outpacing Williams by more than six seconds, 6:41.340 to 6:47.982. Wellesley was third (6:48.492), followed by WPI, Wesleyan and Ithaca.
Bates finished a very close second out of six boats in the W3V8 grand final. Williams took first in 6:53.099, a hair ahead of Bates (6:53.363). Wellesley (7:05.371) was a distant third place, followed by Williams' B boat, WPI and the University of New Hampshire. The Bobcats also entered a boat in the women's open four grand final, finishing third behind Ithaca and the Coast Guard and ahead of Mt. Holyoke, Clark and St. Lawrence.