It was a warm morning in Indiana, just hinting at the upcoming summer heat. At 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 30, three boats lined up at the start of the 2000-meter Eagle Creek Park racing course in Indianapolis. As the flag went down, the oars went into the water, and the NCAA DIII Women’s Rowing Championships had begun.
Upon receiving their third invite ever to the NCAAs, the Cardinals traveled to Indianapolis to compete in the Championships against the nation’s best. This year, Wesleyan sent two eight-rower boats, having last been invited to the NCAAs in 2001.
Over that weekend in May, both Red and Black boats achieved great success, battling their ways into respective Grand Final races. The first varsity (1V) finished fifth overall out of eight teams. The boat held coxswain Brianne Wiemann ’15, Ava Miller-Lewis ’17, Remy Johnson ’16, Captain Kayla Cloud ’14, Emma Koramshahi ’16, Annie Dade ’16, Captain Clare Doyle ’14, Emilie Johnson ’13, and Hannah Korevaar ’14.
The second varsity (2V) finished in third place, behind Bates and Trinity. The boat held coxswain Ari Rudess ’15, Avery Mushinski ’15, Emilie Sinkler ’14, Emma Buford ’16, Emma Halter ’17, Hannah Brigham ’17, Lucy Finn ’14, Eva Frieden ’15, and Ellen Paik ’16.
“Every time we got on the water we knew we were racing the best teams in the country,” said Head Coach Patrick Tynan in an email. “We were one of those teams but there were no easy races. We used every racing opportunity as a chance to further identify our strengths and adjust our race plan accordingly.”
After placing third in its initial heat with a time of 6:51.523, the 1V went on to secure second place in the repechage that followed. (A repechage is a race that allows losing teams of a heat to earn a spot in the finals).
“[W]e needed top two to go to the Grand Final and were fortunate enough to get that done,” Tynan said. “The [tensest] moment, for the coaches anyway, was the repechage. Williams Smith was moving well and leading the field for a good part of the race. Luckily, the finish line is at the end of the race and we were able to get past them.”
Wesleyan finished that race in 6:58.911, five seconds ahead of third-place Williams Smith and less than a second behind Washington College. Having secured a top-two spot, the 1V moved on to the Grand Final to race against Trinity, Bates, Williams, Wellesley, and Washington College.
“The highest-energy [race] was the Grand Final,” Tynan said. “It was our goal to get there and it was an awesome feeling lining up and competing to see who is the best in the country.”
After two thousand meters of hard rowing, Wesleyan beat Washington College for fifth place by a three-second margin, finishing in 7:22.676.
The 2V started off its successful weekend with a 7:13.465 finish time in its initial heat, placing second behind Trinity. The Cardinals then moved on to win first place decisively in their repechage race, finishing in 7:02.737. The closest boat was Williams’ 2V, three and a half seconds behind. It was Wesleyan’s fourth consecutive victory over the Ephs this season, and that streak continued into the Grand Final in which Wesleyan was pitted against Bates, Trinity, and Williams.
The boat finished in 7:33.416, four seconds behind second-place Trinity. The Cardinals were ahead of the Ephs by over four seconds, marking Wesleyan’s fifth straight win over its Little Three rival.
“The 2V was an extremely consistent crew so it was less adjusting and more maintaining speed and performance as the Championships progressed,” Tynan said. “They really didn’t have many ups and downs and did a good job of managing emotions throughout the racing. We had a number of freshmen in this crew, so the future is bright. They had some outstanding role models to row with.”
Wesleyan ended the weekend with 26 team points, finishing in fifth place, just two points behind Wellesley’s 28. Trinity won the team crown with 40 points while Bates and Williams tied for second at 33 points each.
In addition to a fifth-place prize, individual members of Wesleyan’s 1V crew received noteworthy awards. Wiemann received the NCAA’s Elite 89 Award, which recognizes the student athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average who has reached the finals in the division of hir sport.
Captains Cloud and Doyle respectively received First-Team All-NESCAC and Second-Team All-NESCAC recognition, distinguishing their accomplishments among NESCAC rowers at the end of a phenomenal season.
“[W]hat worked for this team is that we had great upperclass leadership,” Tynan said. “They loved to compete and there was a strong sense of community on the team. We had 20 athletes who did not travel to Indianapolis and they played a huge part in the success of the team this year by pushing the 1V and 2V athletes while developing themselves.”