Thanks to all you who joined us at Lake Quinsigamond for the NERC. It was wonderful to have so many of you join the team, and the throng, at lakeside. Crews have been racing there since the 1870’s and it always amazes me that the lake has such a vibe and creates such drama, in these intense competitions.
We had our own share of drama this year! On the bright side, all our crews made the Grand Finals, and 3 of our 5 crews won medals. On the other side, our first men, seeded first, had a disappointing row to finish fifth. All part of the life of racing boats and we’re learning from our successes as well as our disappointments.
The Novice Women took the gold medal with an open water finish over the field. The drama in this one came from a season ending injury the crew’s stroke, Anna Westervelt, just after camp. Coach Pitney shuffled and reshuffled, and we finally brought in Taylor Cochran who had rowed last year but not at all this spring, and put her in the bow and she rose to the occasion. What a satisfying win for her and the mates, Katie Ross, Sam Burns, Melissa Arliss and coxie Ruiqi Tang in a really dominating row.
The Varsity Women had its share of drama as Captain Molly Taft faced injury as well; with subs and uncertainty they made their way though the last races of the season, and the week before New Englands Coach Pitney put Molly back in the boat and they finished second to Conn by open water at the Clark Invitational. Without much water time before the Championship, the outcome this week remained uncertain, but their race to the silver medal at NERC was inspirational as they closed the gap with Conn to a couple of seconds. Caroline Ciocca stroked and Bonnie Cao coxed with Heather Kinnear and Claire Ellwanger joining Molly to round out the boat.
The M2V was the most exciting and closest race of the day. Without the advantage of a morning heat, stroke Morgan Andersen and coxie Julia MacDonald had only the row to the start to get the crew of John Bruno, James Henry, and Elliott Munn in the groove. In winning the bronze medal they had to stage a dramatic finish to move through Amherst, and they did. At the line, only 2 seconds separated the first 4 crews, with Bowdoin just .6 seconds behind the VT crew that beat them by 5 seconds in Lowell, and only 1.2 behind winner UNH!. Amherst was .8 behind Bowdoin, who beat the Jeffs the week before by only .4! This one was a huge accomplishment.
The Novice Men had a flat heat in the morning, but after a good long break, coxswain Jen Helble took her men to the water and with stroke Dan Lesser’s leadership Graham Edwards, Steve Strout, and Soichi Hirokawa broke through to a higher level of competition to finish 5th in field loaded with speed. Winning is not always finishing first: these men won the race with themselves and finished the season with their best race of the spring.
Coxie Christine Buckland and the Varsity Men, stroke Michael Hannaman, Tucker Colvin, Dan Polasky, and Kenny McCroskery, went into the day seeded first based on beating Amherst by 8 seconds the week before. URI surprised them in the morning heat and beat them by a breath, but the men had the 3rd fastest qualifying time behind VT and URI so they were poised to be contenders in the afternoon. In a thrilling final VT had a couple of seats at the 1500 m. mark and 4 boats were bow to bow to challenge at the end. But by the line, VT and Amherst took gold and silver while UMASS Lowell bested UMASS Amherst by 1.2 seconds for 3rd and 4th with Bowdoin trailing for 5th by 1.1 seconds. It was a huge disappointment, but the men are determined to understand it and learn from it and get back in the speed for Dad Vail in 2 weeks.
So Quinsigamond offered up its historic drama once again, and the Bowdoin Navy had its share, all for the good as we celebrate the accomplishments and learn from the defeats.