On Saturday, April 18, the men’s and women’s crew teams competed in high-stakes races against Williams. The men looked to capture their first victory over the Ephs since 2007, while the women were trying to best Williams for the first time this century, their last victory coming in 1999, but both teams fell short against their Little Three rivals.
“Yesterday was a tough day, but we are getting closer to Williams each year, chipping away,” said women’s Captain Gillian Mahoney ’15. “I have faith that we can come at them fighting when we see them in two weeks, and again when we see them in three.”
While losing to the Ephs for the 16th time in a row was a disappointment, the day was not a total loss for the Cardinals. Coming off a solid performance last weekend in their first race of the season, the women’s 3V group continued to prove themselves on the water by obliterating the Ephs’ 3V by 18 seconds.
“The 3V had a great race Saturday,” said women’s Captain Emily Garvin ’15. “They’ve been on top of their mental game all week, and that played a huge role in coming away with a win this weekend. The 3V [rowers have] been lucky enough to have Annie Haley, our assistant coach, on the water with them every day; she’s been a huge asset and really helped the 3V stay competitive and get hype for racing. [They have] clearly showed that they love to race and that they are aggressive. It will definitely be exciting to see what they can do at New Englands and ECACs.”
Although conditions varied from race to race, the fact that the 3V finished only 10.4 seconds behind the 1V highlights the Cardinals’ depth.
“They had more heart, more fight, and more determination than anyone else out there,” Mahoney said. “Their victory proves how deep and strong our team is.”
In light of the loss, the Cardinals plan to use this week to fine-tune their rowing as they get set for their last race of the regular season on April 25.
“I think that the team will continue to get as many meters in on and off the water as we can to keep up fitness, but also work on some technical things like blade direction and acceleration,” Garvin said. “From here on out for the rest of the season, it’s really about fine-tuning.”
On Saturday, the Cards will face their toughest competition as they race against Trinity, the defending New England Champion, currently ranked first in Division III.
“Our team has continued to improve from week to week and has yet to reach our peak, which is clutch,” Garvin said. “We face Trinity next week and they are likely to be our toughest competition yet. It will be exciting for us to see what we can do against them.”
The men were also unable to claim a victory over the Ephs this past weekend for the eighth year in a row. While the 1V bested last year’s time by nearly two seconds, the Cardinals still lost by 4.4 seconds. The 2V lost by only nine tenths of a second, and the 3V by 7.9 seconds.
“I was extremely happy with the way the guys went out and raced,” said men’s Captain Ethan Currie ’15. “We had a great race in the 1V even though we didn’t win. This was our first race [that] really showed the kind of rowing we’re capable of. To be this close to the defending New England champs in both [the] 1V and 2V is huge for our confidence and for our expectations going into championship season.”
With New Englands only two weeks away, the Cardinals believe that they can find success if they fine-tune their performance.
“We need to find a balance between doing too much off the start, like we’ve done in the past, and losing crucial seats in the beginning, which happened Saturday,” Currie said. “At this point, it’s mostly about needing to continue to build our boat chemistry and develop trust in each other, though.”
In their final race of the season, the Cards will look to reclaim the Norm Graf Cup from Trinity for the first time since 2002. Norm Graf had been the head coach at Trinity from 1968-82, but in 1995, Graf decided to come out of retirement and join the coach staff at Wes. Since 1995, the Cards have only beaten the Bantams four times, but that does not deter them.
“We have a very good feeling about this weekend, and everyone is super stoked to give another go at winning the Norm Graf Cup back from Trin,” Currie said. “Last year, we led them for the first 1500m of the race but got walked through in the sprint. That was devastating. Everything we’ve seen from this season looks to be in our favor.”