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By William Sodoma
They came from Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C.
Eighteen women, 32 arms pulling, 32 legs pushing, two voices crying out instructions--and the Colby College women's crew brought home the NCAA Division III Rowing Championship title, Colby's first-ever NCAA team championship.
Colby's varsity eight crew won the Grand Final (places 1-6), and the junior varsity eight placed third in the Petite Final (places 7-12) for ninth overall in the May 30-31 meet at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. With lowest points winning the title, the Mules had 10 points overall, the varsity scoring one for winning the Grand Final and the junior varsity earning nine points.
A year after finishing second in the country to Williams College, this year's varsity eight of Vivienne Ho '03 (coxswain), Leah Hagamen '05, Emily Allen '03, Laura Mistretta '04, Annie Szender '05, Leah Robertson '03, Andrea Piekarski '04, Megan Loosigian '05 and Ellie Boyce '03 earned bragging rights as the best Division III boat in the country.
Colby's varsity eight drew nine women from nine different states or territories for the varsity eight.
"I always knew there was a lot of diversity on the team in the way we think, our backgrounds, our majors," said co-captain Emily Allen. "It was a lot of different people coming together for one goal."
That goal seemed impossible earlier in the season. Both boats lost badly to the Coast Guard Academy in dual meet races. The varsity eight finished last in the Grand Final at the New England Rowing Championships in early May.
"We certainly never hit the panic button," said third-year head coach Stew Stokes. "We knew there was speed to be gained. We settled down as a group and talked about not worrying about things we couldn't control and instead worrying about getting faster."
That mentality--and the gift of a new boat from an anonymous donor this spring--made all the difference for Stokes and his crews.
"I think it helped psychologically to have a new boat," Allen said, "but also seeing the difference on the water was a big deal. The JV got our old boat and I think they felt more comfortable in a better boat. The morale was real high after that wonderful present."
The top finisher among New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) schools at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) meet on May 10-11 in New Jersey would receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. The Mules earned the bid after being the only NESCAC school and one of only two Division III schools to make the ECAC Grand Final.
The NCAA meet got off to a great start when the varsity eight won their heat on the opening day, automatically qualifying for the Grand Final the next day.
Strong 32 mile-per-hour winds greeted rowers for the finals. With rain forecast for later in the day, NCAA officials pushed up race starting times by about two hours.
"Some crews were out there warming up forty-five minutes to an hour," Stokes said. "The water was getting rough, it was a little cold, and I didn't want the boat filling up with any more water than was necessary. We worked out in a boathouse there and did exactly what we would be doing on the water."
Stokes and his JV crew knew that Ithaca College and Trinity College had strong JV boats. Finishing third would be like a victory for Colby's junior varsity crew of Becca Reisman '06 (coxswain), Katie O'Neill '04, Caitlin Chamberlin '05, Caroline Andresen '05, Cameron Fisher '04, Sarah Dunham '05, Liz Johnson '05, Liz Shepherd '06 and Liz Curran '05.
The varsity eight led their final from start to finish, beating second-place University of Puget Sound by nearly five seconds in the 2,000-meter race.
"The last five hundred meters was so emotional because I think everyone knew we were going to win," Allen said. "We were just flying. It was the most fun I've ever had in a boat."
After receiving Colby's first NCAA team championship trophy at the awards ceremony, the Mules spent the night together bowling and getting ice cream.
"We had kids who were going away the next day back to Seattle, California, Texas or wherever they were going," Stokes said. "We wanted to spend one more time together as a team. That night was a lot like the kids are--loose, relaxed and fun. They are such a tremendous, spirited group."
The Colby College Museum of Art has grown steadily in stature over the
past four decades. Lynne Moss Perricelli '95 looks at the museum's past,
present, and future.
Pride and Prejudice
Gay Colby students are demanding more visibility and inclusion in the
College community. Colby details their concerns, and those of
students who think the gay community has gone too far.
Construction begins for The Colby Green, the centerpiece of the
College's most significant expansion in a half-century.
All that Jazz
Vinnie Martucci '77 composes and improvises to make a life in music
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College Colby Magazine 4181
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