Rowing varsity 8 boats pick up first wins of season at Tufts

By Daphne Assimakopoulos ’17

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The men’s and women’s rowing teams embraced the frigid weather this past weekend as they raced on the Malden River. As they pushed through icy conditions, both Continental varsity crews picked up their first wins of the spring season. 

The stakes were especially high this weekend, as the women’s varsity 8 boat set out to prove themselves after moving up to the 10th spot in the NCAA national coaches poll. 

“I think that being nationally ranked definitely raises the stakes of every race, practice, and stroke,” commented Maddy Maher ’17. “Whenever we go out on the water, our coaches and teammates expect us to perform like a nationally ranked team, and that really boosts the energy and effort level of everyone. We take every stroke with the intention of earning and keeping that ranking.”

Hamilton’s varsity 8 certainly performed at a high level, earning a win over Mount Holyoke by almost 10 seconds. They then faced Tufts, which entered the weekend ranked sixth in the national rankings, in a tight race. The Continentals fell to Tufts, but by a mere four seconds. 

Despite this loss to Tufts, Maher commented, “The team learned that we are mentally capable of so much more than we think we are. Our races with Tufts were incredibly tight, in terrible weather, and on an unfair race course. Despite these factors, we still pushed ourselves to perform in ways that we did not know we could.”

The men’s team also performed admirably, earning a win over the Coast Guard by a whopping 30 seconds. The other races were not as successful, with the second varsity 8 and men’s 4 boat falling to Tufts. The men’s squad has been struggling with injuries and changing lineups, but this victory shows the promise that the future may hold. 

Caroline Harrington ’16, the men’s second varsity boat coxswain, commented on lessons learned from these races. She noted, “The results were not what we wanted...but we realized we have the potential to fight for every stroke. Each race and each practice needs to have the same intensity, and I think this weekend proved to the entire men’s team that this type of competitive edge is possible.” 

Moving forward, both teams can use the experience from last weekend as fuel to their fire. Although both rowing teams will face challenges amid the horrendous weather, they certainly have the drive and spirit to overcome the physical elements. 

Maher commented that things are certainly looking up, as the “the team hopes to continue to challenge ourselves and mature as racers. We’re a young team with a lot of potential, and we’ve exhibited in our first few races that, once we hone in on race plans and mental toughness, we will be able to do some really exciting things. We hope to make NCAAs again this year, so our goals on and off the water revolve around putting ourselves in the best position to race like national champions.”

The Continentals are scheduled to race at William Smith with Rochester Institute of Technology this Saturday.   Each team has four more races (including a home meet against Union on April 17) before the New York state championships at Saratoga Springs, which directly precedes the season-ending NESCAC championships.

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