Though they may not compete under the spotlights in front of hundreds of fans at Alumni Gym or Garcelon Field, Bates rowing has been quietly dominating on the water. In the wake of the team’s historically excellent performances at the New England and ECAC Rowing Championships, a national championship is not an unreasonable prospect at the NCAA Division III Championships on May 29th and 30th in Sacramento, California.
The Bates women’s team has solidified the number one spot in the nation on the strength of their recent successes. At the New England Championships on May 2nd, Bates swept the first, second, and third varsity eight grand finals, the team’s best showing ever at New England’s. In the first varsity eight final, Bates’ time of 6:57.656 beat both Trinity and Williams, who were ranked first and second in the nation respectively at the time.
The first varsity eight boat for the Bobcat men matched their women counterparts, winning the varsity eight grand final for the first time in Bates history. Their final time of 6:14.338 was comfortably ahead of Boston College in second place (6:17.008). They qualified for the grand final by defeating NESCAC rivals Trinity (who crossed the finish line at 6:12.384) in the first heat, posting an impressive time of 6:10.564.
Stakes were even higher for Sunday’s ECAC Championships in Worcester, Massachusetts. At ECACs, the varsity eight grand final also counts for the NESCAC Championship, as the highest finishing NESCAC team takes the title. Automatic qualification for NCAAs is also on the line.
Despite being beaten by Michigan and Hobart, the men’s varsity eight took home the bronze with a 6:28.404 time in the grand final. Crucially, fellow NESCAC competitors Williams and Wesleyan came behind the Bobcats, in fourth and sixth respectively. Bates’ NESCAC championship snapped Williams’ streak of six consecutive conference titles, and is the first NESCAC championship for any Bates men’s team in three years. The first varsity eight boat was comprised of freshmen Rod Pratt and Daniel Sparks, sophomores Erik Divan and William Lehrer, juniors Welles Mathison, James Naso, and Marit Wettstein (cox), and seniors Matthew Silverman and Nicholas Flynn.
On the women’s side, the ceaseless dominance continued. As they had done a week earlier, the first, second, and third varsity eight teams triumphed, winning both the ECAC and NESCAC titles. This is the second straight year that the top three Bates women’s boats have accomplished this incredible feat, meaning that the Bobcats have again earned the right to travel to the NCAA championships. The first varsity eight boat will include sophomores Kate Traquina (cox) and Elise Emil, juniors Emma Taylor, Emilie Muller, and Alison Simmons, and seniors Rebecca O’Neill, Mallory Ward, Jenna Armstrong, and Eliza Barkan.
Bates head coach Peter Steenstra was named ECAC Coach of the Year in both women’s and men’s rowing, a tremendous honor that highlights just how much Bates crew has achieved so far. They’ll be searching for even more in Sacramento on the national stage.