Bates Bobcast Episode 143: Rowing takes the NESCAC again

This week we're celebrating both the men's and women's rowing teams once again winning the NESCAC title. Plus, the Bates track and field teams impressed at the Open New England Championships and we chat with Bates alum Mohdis Baker '14, one of the coaches for "Cold Front", our women's Ultimate team, which is headed back to Division III nationals for the fourth straight year.

Interviews this episode:

  • 1:31 -- Sophia Rintell '19, Women's rowing captain.
  • 10:00 -- Eric Jordan '19, Men's rowing captain.
  • 25:22 -- Brendan Donahue '20, Men's track and field captain (Male Bobcat of the Week).
  • 35:26 -- Mary Corcoran '22, So Kim '21, Sarah Rothmann '19 and Ayden Eickhoff '19, Women's track and field 4x800 relay team (Female Bobcats of the Week).
  • 45:37 -- Mohdis Baker '14, "Cold Front" coach (Bates women's Ultimate).

Bobcast Transcript

Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast. Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re celebrating both the men’s and women’s rowing teams once again winning the NESCAC title. Plus, the Bates track and field teams impressed at the Open New England Championships and we chat with Bates alum Mohdis Baker, one of the coaches for Cold Front, our women’s Ultimate team, which is headed back to Division III nationals for the fourth straight year. That’s coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!

Aaron: The Bates baseball team finished its season with an overall record of 19-17 after falling to Williams and Middlebury in the NESCAC Championships on Saturday. Junior Nolan Collins struck out a career-high 12 against the Panthers in the elimination game Saturday night. The Bobcats finish the year with their best record since 2013 and during the regular season, their 9-3 mark in the NESCAC East was the best in program history.

Aaron: On Sunday, the Bates rowing teams competed at the National Invitational Rowing Championships in Worcester. The N-I-R-C regatta determines the NESCAC championship, and both rowing teams won their third straight NESCAC title, with the men outracing Trinity in the first varsity eight grand final, and the women taking home the gold medal in the 1V final, clinching an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Senior captain Sophia Rintell sits at the stroke seat for the women’s first varsity eight. She’s been in the 1V boat every year during her time at Bates, helping the Bobcats win the national title the past two years. On Monday, we chatted with Rintell about the race and her senior season so far.

Sophia: Yeah, so it was a bit cold and rainy, especially compared to the past few years at this regatta it's usually sunny and warm. But we've prepared for anything, we've rowed through plenty of cold, rainy days here in Maine. So I think we were really just ready to jump in and do it regardless. But it just took a little bit of extra warming up, and making sure we had plenty of layers, you know, taking care of ourselves and doing all the little things that are necessary to make sure we're super ready when it comes down to race time.

Aaron: So for you personally, when you were a first-year, you were the only first-year in the 1V. Now you're a senior and you're the only senior in the 1V, what's that experience been like on the back end, kind of now, you know, this leadership role, you know, being the most experienced rower in the boat?

Sophia: You know, I think it's been a real honor to be in this boat each time and with a different crew each year, and I've learned a lot from, you know, the older teammates that I rowed with, and I'm learning a lot from the younger teammates that I'm rowing with. So it's really just, it's been a good time, and it's pretty cool to be kind of the older one, the leader in the boat. But I'm just constantly thinking about the people who were in that position for me and remembering the little things that they did that made me feel welcome and trying to do the same for others.

Aaron: Sure, so what are some of those little things that help people feel welcome, perhaps?

Sophia: You know, I think it's just getting excited, giving someone a pat on the back, you know, I like to kind of hype everyone up before the race, and just the little things, and being kind and friendly, and being genuinely really excited to row with all these people. I think that's how the seniors treated me when I was the first-year, and I think that's what really all the upperclassmen on the team really try and do for the underclassmen.

Aaron: You mentioned hyping up the team, I know, rowing... you know, you also do a lot of like meditation and try to be relaxed as well. So how do you balance that when to be really excited, but also keeping calm, right?

Sophia: Yeah, it's definitely a fine balance, I really like to get super hyped up. But I think I can also pretty quickly, you know, when we're at the starting line, getting ready to race, you know, put on my game face a little bit, and just stay calm and collected. And channel kind of all that hyped up energy into focus, and then get the race started, and start it off clean, and I think that's really what we practice is being super energetic, and being super prepared and ready for the race. And then just channeling that energy and having just confidence at the starting line.

Aaron: And then for you, you know, you're a senior now, but tell us back when you were looking for colleges, what made Bates the place you wanted to go?

Sophia: I didn't know a whole lot about what college rowing would be like, I really loved Bates as a school, and when I visited the rowing team for an overnight, it was just... I just had a feeling like I just feel really at home here with the people, the atmosphere of the team. And they were welcoming from the start before I was even on the team, so that's really all it was for me.

Aaron: When did you start rowing?

Sophia: I started rowing in my freshman year of high school.

Aaron: Okay, what got you into the sport?

Sophia: Honestly, my older brother had already started two years before I had, and it just seemed really cool. I'd never heard of it before, and I gave it a try, and I was kind of tall, and that always helps. So, you know, I just found it to be something that I loved.

Aaron: Great, what was the biggest thing you had to learn, you know, in high school, then maybe what was the biggest adjustment once you got to college, you know, in taking the next step kind of?

Sophia: I think in college athletics, it's just a bit more... I think people are a little more mature as athletes, kind of, know how to do things a bit better, know how to prepare mentally for a race and know how to train, and find balance, and just go into everything a little more intentional. In high school, it was kind of just like, I'm just going to go to practice, and I'm going to go to a race, and I'm just doing it all, and it's my after school activity. And I think in college, I've really found a way to channel how much I care about it into really productive training and things like that.

Aaron: What have you learned from coach Steenstra and the assistants?

Sophia: The coaches are really wonderful, I think one of the best things about what they do is that they're very transparent in the way they coach us. They're very clear with this is why we're having practice today, and this is why we're doing this workout, and this is how it's going to benefit you come race day. So I think we are able to really trust in them, and really buy in, and I think it also helps us have confidence in ourselves. We know that we're doing everything we can do to be successful, and we just have to execute the training plan that they've set out for us.

Aaron: Excellent. And then for the team this year, for the 1V, you know, WPI they out raced you one regatta but then the last two, it's gone Bates' way, again, by open water for that matter. So what adjustments were made, or is it a matter of just being in the water more often?

Sophia: Yeah, I think it's just a matter of continuing to work hard, and we've been on a steady incline in terms of our speed, and I think other teams have as well. But we've just... we haven't really changed much other than just continue to push ourselves and believe in ourselves. And I'm not sure exactly what other teams are doing maybe they're scrambling to make changes, and gain some speed, but our coach was pretty clear that all we're going to do is keep doing what we're doing, and that's what's going to get us through to the finish line, you know.

Aaron: Sure, and obviously you have experience with this, you know, back in the stroke seat though, what's that like, you know, being right there with the coxswain right in front of you?

Sophia: I'm pretty comfortable there. Yeah, I've done it a few times before, I've been happy really every seat I've been in, it's all about what the crew is doing behind me. And I feel super backed up by this crew, by my 7 seat, we've always rowed next to each other all the time that we've rowed together, so it just feels pretty good. I feel pretty comfortable there.

Aaron: That's Hannah Fitts, right?

Sophia: Yeah, that's Hannah Fitts.

Aaron: She brings the energy doesn't she?

Sophia: She does, she does, she balances me out.

Aaron: Looking forward, to NCAAs it'll be your fourth trip, obviously, the team has been there I think 13 straight years now. And so what are you most looking forward to? Going to Indianapolis, that's a new location, I think, right?

Sophia: Yeah, it's a new location. So I don't really know what to think. I've heard sometimes it's called windy Indy so. I think if... I don't know what the conditions will be like, but I know we'll be prepared no matter what, but it's a fun race being at the same Regatta as Division Two, and Division Three, and Division One colleges, we kind of see the best of the best. And we might not be racing against them directly, but it feels really special, and I've always been kind of in awe, when we really get there, and it's a big production.

Aaron: Sometimes you wish you could give some larger division teams a go?

Sophia: In the few days before the racing, we can all warm up on the race course together, get in some practice, so there have been a few times when we're rowing right alongside them and thinking, oh, we're holding them down, you know, it's pretty exciting. And I think we could be a little bit competitive with some of those, you know, high level teams.

Aaron: But in terms of the division three points you will be facing, obviously... you know about WPI, I'm sure there are some other teams that you're looking at as well, but what's it like being like expected almost to win?

Sophia: I think it's a little intimidating, but also really exciting, I think we know that we're the team with a target on our back, and everyone's going to really try with all the power they have to get a little closer to us to inch up and overtake us if they can. But I think that makes it all the more exciting and it just makes us know that we might have had a good race this past weekend, but it's only going to get more intense from here. So just going to shape up to be a pretty fun race, I think.

Aaron: The men’s rowing team had conflicting emotions after winning the NESCAC title. While the Bobcats out-raced all the other NESCAC schools, they finished fourth overall in the first varsity eight grand final, behind Hobart, Michigan and Marist. It was somewhat of a rebuilding year for the men, and senior captain stroke Eric Jordan joined the Bobcast to talk about his time at Bates and the expectations the men’s rowing program has going forward.

Aaron: Eric, first of all, when you came into Bates you had experience rowing, but as a first-year you were in the novice eight, as they call it. And so what was the experience like being in novice eight as a first-year, and then jumping up to the first varsity eight as a sophomore after that?

Eric: Sure. Well, first of all, thanks for having me Aaron. Yeah, I rowed for three years in high school, I wasn't ever very motivated, and when I came into Bates, I was right where I belonged in the freshman eight, it wasn't necessarily a bunch of novices not having experience. In fact, most of the people on the boat had rowed before, but it was just more of the third varsity kind of just guys that were not really good enough for the 2V, and I think there was something about at the championship races, the freshman eight is worth more points than the third varsity eight. So if we have the opportunity to make that freshman eight, then we do that, and if we make a freshman eight that can go fast, so it looked like we were going to be able to do that.

Eric: So we put it together, and it was fun rowing in there but there were a lot of changes that happened that year for me personally, that kind of drove me into my sophomore year to become a lot more motivated or put a lot more effort into rowing, into training, become a lot faster, and push me into the varsity in my sophomore year. It was stressful because I'd only ever had one race in a varsity boat before my sophomore year, in high school, I was in the 3V or the 2V most of the time. So there was a lot of stress around that first Charles race when I was in the varsity, there was a lot of stress in the spring, especially as I start stroking towards the end of the season. But it was exciting, and I've gotten pretty used to it since then.

Aaron: So what were some things that motivated you really?

Eric: Well, yeah, it was... I actually lost a couple of grandparents going into that summer, after that year. And I started thinking about just wanting to make the most of my time at Bates. I was a pretty good student in high school, I had a pretty good academic year, in my first year at Bates as well, but I really hadn't been putting that much effort into rowing either through high school or through my first year at Bates. So when I lost kind of both of my grandmothers in a short period of time, and there was some personal relationship things that were going on too, it just kind of made me take a step back at my life... step back and look at my life and say like, I really want to make the most of my opportunity here at Bates, do the best I can kind of make the largest impact possible.

Eric: And I was already in the rowing, I enjoyed rowing and I said, well, I might as well do it here if I'm going to put so much of my time into it because it really doesn't... I mean, we're on the water all the time when you're training over the winter there isn't really an off season, it's something that if you're going to do it, I believe that it should be done wholeheartedly. And it was just kind of bunch of personal factors that made me say, all right, I want to just go for it, and do my best.

Aaron: Well, you clearly made the most of it, last year as a junior, IRAs I mean that must have been the experience of a lifetime, right?

Eric: Yeah, it was exciting. It was you know... I was really close with a lot of last year senior class, having rowed with them in that varsity eight for a couple of years at that point, I was living with you probably know Mats Terwiesch, Roddy Pratt, and Josh Bilchik, I'm not sure if you know him but I was living with the three of them in my junior year, we were all very motivated. We had had the idea for a number of years at that point that we're on this rise, looking towards IRAs, trying to get to that championship. And yeah, I mean it was just something that we had looked towards for a long time, and I kind of bought into that, I joined into the push that they had really started in their freshman year without me, because I was in the freshman eight, and I didn't really have that mentality until sophomore year. But once I got into that boat, and once I kind of switched my own mentality around, I really bought into it, and we made it our goal, and just... yeah, getting there was very exciting. Yeah.

Aaron: Excellent. And then for you being one of the captains this year, what has that experience been like for you?

Eric: It's been a challenge a lot of the time, it was something I looked forward to for sure. The responsibility, especially over the winter of leading the team's training, kind of being the guy or the guys, that's me and my co-captains were to kind of lead everybody forward and show people how things are done that's exciting. But at the same time, I mean, man, it was something I knew, even as last year was coming to an end, even as we were still training for IRAs. But I had been elected one of the captains it was like, wow, this is going to be tough, because we were losing such a large senior class, that was so strong, and had gotten to know each other so well that I knew it was going to be hard. I mean, even if we were you know, there was a lot of talk about getting a really strong freshman class coming in, which is true. There's a lot of strong individuals in there, it takes a lot to make a boat go fast, even when you have strong individuals.

Eric: I was comparing just with somebody earlier today, I don't know if you follow professional basketball, I'm sure you do. But it's like the Celtics just because they have a lot of talented individuals on the team, you need to have chemistry, and you need to have familiarity, and you need to be able to work together as a team in order to succeed. And so rowing is no different than that, people tend to think it's this foreign strange sport, because it's not like baseball, or football, or anything like these very obvious popular team sports. But part of the reason that boat that went to IRA's was so strong is because it had so many guys that had taken so many strokes together. And so it was something we knew it was just going to be really, really challenging to make it work this year because we only had four of us returning from the varsity, which I mean, it sounds like a good number but one of those is a coxswain, which matters but when you have three guys in the boat...

Eric: And Kento and I were two seniors who had been in the varsity, we hadn't even taken that many strokes together, we were kind of on opposite trajectories. He was in the first varsity his first year when I was in the freshman eight, and then he kind of went down to the 2V at one point when I took a seat in the varsity. And then we finally synced up in junior year, so we hadn't had that much time together. And then Max Milavetz, was the other returning rower and he only got up into the varsity last spring, so even the returning rowers who are coming back hadn't had that much experience with each other in that boat. So having to replace just that many bodies in the boat we knew that was going to be tough, and the winter required not only a focus on training and fitness, but trying to sync up and make things work together as well as possible.

Aaron: And that being said, I mean, you mentioned the youngsters, first years or sophomores in that 1V, obviously the team, you know, finished the year, I thought, pretty strongly, right? New Englands and NIRCs, so as a senior looking to the future you must be pretty pleased where the program seems to be headed, right? I mean, obviously last year was huge and this year a little bit maybe rebuilding but you know, the future looks bright as well.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, I think for what was kind of a rebuilding year in a lot of ways it was... there were decent results at the end, we were making a lot of jokes as the year went on how we were really struggling to kind of win anything. We were trying to make light of it, and stay as relaxed as possible about things. But yeah, it rounded up well. I mean, we faced some really tough crews on Saturday. Hobart was obviously... or Sunday sorry, Hobart was obviously extremely motivated having lost last year, they definitely put in... I mean they had a lot of strong guys in that boat, and they put in a lot of work. It's also a very young boat, I don't even know if they lost any rowers since last year for example, I mean the guy I took a shirt from last year in stroke seat, I gave mine to him, and I'm pretty sure down the line it was most of the same guys in that boat. They may be lost one or two seniors, so a lot of continuity there.

Eric: Marist, also very strong crew very motivated from last year because we just edged them out of that final, and then Michigan we hadn't even seen at NIRC's in a couple of years, but they're always very strong even for a club team, they're just so massive that they're incredibly deep, and a really strong team, so to be in a fairly close final there, I think it was four seconds between the top four boats, there's a lot of reason to have hope going forward. There's a lot of continuity in the boat now we're only losing Kento, Lee and I... Sorry and Julian from that varsity eight so it's kind of the opposite of last year now we're having a lot of continuity, a lot of opportunity for those guys to get to know each other, and match their strokes up even better, which is really what you saw.

Eric: I mean when you see results changing from you know, when we were at the beginning of the season losing to Marist by whatever it was, like 13, 15 seconds or something like that, to the end of the season losing to them by a couple or beating them in the heats, it's not a dramatic change in fitness in that varsity boat. It's not like we just got so much fitter or pulled so much harder, or anything like-

Aaron: Yeah, there was no Rocky montage or anything like that.

Eric: No, it's just getting familiar, it's just syncing up our strokes because... I mean, it's basically the reason that Bates is so successful, we're never I don't know how much you know about erg scores, but we're never going to go out there, and beat the guys just on raw power. That row at Hobart and Marist they recruit much more widely than we do, they have a bigger name, they are perennial IRA contenders, so they're always going to draw just more natural raw talent and power than we will, and the reason we were able to compete with them is because we do put so much effort. And then led by coach Steenstra put so much effort in syncing our strokes up, and thinking about how we row, and rowing well.

Eric: So that's all the change was through the season it was just trying to get the eight of us who basically never rowed in a lineup together before to figure each other out and make the set boat kind of run down the course smoothly and well. And we got close, we didn't quite figure it out well enough, but we did a pretty okay job with it.

Aaron: Well, it's got to be kind of interesting feeling right? Because you got fourth in that Grand Final, but you beat Trinity, so you were the NESCAC champion. What are your feelings on that kind of because you won the NESCAC title, but the team has higher goals, obviously?

Eric: Right. I mean, we kind of... I don't want to sound too arrogant in the process of saying this, but it's we're kind of beyond the point with our team goals on a year to year basis of looking at the NESCAC championship because of that final race. It's like I said, I said this in a message to the team before we went into winter training. If we want to go to IRAs, we need to be able to beat teams like Hobart and Marist. The difference really between teams like Hobart, Marist, even BC, and teams like us, and the other NESCAC teams are the restrictions that we have over the winter. Hobart and Marist are training with their coaches all winter long, we're not allowed to. And so what we need to do, I mean, if you look back at the results, over the last four, maybe five years, you'll see that there's these couple of top teams, they'll be the New York schools, especially Hobart at the top of the NIRC finishes, then there's us kind of getting closer over the last few years.

Eric: And then this year, and then there's always like a significant drop off to the next NESCAC school. And so it's very clear that if we want to go to IRAs, which is where this program is at, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and we can't even look at the NESCAC, we can't really acknowledge that we are a NESCAC school, we need to train better than that, we need to train harder than that, we need to hold ourselves to this standard over the winter like we all one of those schools that we're trying to beat because if we train like all the other schools that have these restrictions over the winner, if we just kind of put a half effort into it and aim at beating Trinity in the NIRC, that's what we're going to get.

Eric: We're going to be back there, fifth, sixth in the grand finals and lengths off of Hobart and Marist, which is not where the program is heading. We've had such a nice trajectory to where the... you know, the year before I got here, they won New Englands for the first time, and then obviously they were getting closer, as I was in there, closer to winning ECACs, then NIRCs. And then we finally did that, and now the next goal is, let's get back to IRAs, let's place better at IRAs, you know, just keep pushing it further and further. But part of that's going to be... just winning the NESCAC is kind of a rite of passage. I don't know how to phrase it, it kind of just... it has to just happen unless they pick up their game and come along with us too, because it's just Hobart and Marist, those other teams that we need to beat at the very top of NIRCs. They're in a different league than the NESCAC really.

Aaron: Sure. Well, last question for you, any other thoughts from your time rowing at Bates and what it's meant to you?

Eric: It's been quite the transformation from my freshman year, obviously, we've been doing a lot of I think all the seniors have really been doing a lot of reflection in the last few weeks here. And I've been thinking about just... you know, the freshman year wasn't always the smoothest experience for me, but coming out of that year, and going into sophomore year, I was really glad that I was able to change a lot about myself personally, and have the team still there supporting me, and being friends to me, being teammates to me, creating a place where I can go, and have fun on a daily basis, and push myself to achieve great things and take this far... Take the team as far as we can take it. It's not something I really thought was going to happen, my freshman year, I even thought about transferring in the freshman year, so it's pretty crazy looking back on just my like personal transformation throughout the years. And the kind of home that I've found here at Bates rowing, which I think is something all the seniors would say, it's just such a welcoming place for everybody.

Eric: And they're all going to really miss it, and I'm no different than that. Even though I feel like I started in a very different place.

Aaron: Excellent. Eric Jordan, thanks so much.

Eric: Thank you. 

Aaron: The track and field teams competed at the Open New England Outdoor Championships Friday and Saturday in New Haven, Connecticut. Open New Englands represented the last chance for junior captain Brendan Donahue to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the decathlon. And Donahue turned in the best performance of his career, scoring 6,458 points, good for third-place at the meet and 14th in the country. It’s likely that Donahue will qualify for the NCAA Championships and he is our Male Bobcat of the Week!

Aaron: Brendan, two weeks in a row, that's pretty exhausting, you've done it before, though. What's the approach, you know, between New Englands and open New Englands to make sure you're refreshed and ready to go?

Brendan: Awesome. Thanks for having me Aaron. And so the whole preparation for the week is to not really have a regular training week because the decathlon is pretty taxing, and in itself, you really do get a workout, running a 1,500 for me is quite the workout. So that week in between Coach Fereshetian had me do a lot of like, situational walkthroughs, and a lot of just nitty gritty prep to do the fine things right. Because there's particular events that I don't have the best form, and so it's kind of critiquing that form during that week, so I can get prepared for another week. In terms of like physical health, it's really just icing, icing, icing. And yeah, knowing what your body wants, particularly if you're going two weeks in a row, but other than that, it's totally feasible. I think the largest obstacle for me, is the mental thing, but you kind of have to block all that stuff out, and when you get actually to the meet you just realize you're doing track because it's fun.

Aaron: It's 10 events over the course of two days, right?

Brendan: Yeah.

Aaron: What are the 10 events?

Brendan: Okay. So on day one, you start off with 100 meter dash, following that you go to long jump, and then over there you go to the shot put, and then you go to high jump, and then you go to the 400, and that closes day one. And then the next morning bright and early you run the 110 hurdles, then you throw the discus. You do the pole vault, and then you do the javelin, and then you end with the grueling 1500.

Aaron: Yeah. So you end with like, I thought maybe the hardest one perhaps?

Brendan: Yeah, for me at least its been my Achilles heel, but it's getting a little better.

Aaron: So for the throwing events, how many attempts do you get?

Brendan: So you get three attempts for everything, so the kind of mantra is first one, best one. And this weekend, I did that really well, so I was happy with that. But at the same time, I also wish that I had thrown a little further on the second and third events or attempts, but it's a good place to be for sure.

Aaron: In terms of the point system, do you simply have to beat your opponents within the meet to get points or how does that work?

Brendan: Yeah, so the way it works is ideally you need to beat as many people as you can get, because when push comes to shove, if you're not beating guys, then you're not going to get more points. However, you also have to realize that it's a two day event, and so I was in eighth place after the first day. Even myself, I was like wow, this meet is not looking great, but I was still up 80 points on my PR, but then going into day two, I realized that I had a much stronger day two than a lot of the guys in the field, so I was able to bump my way up. But the reality is a lot of the guys that I've been doing the decathlon with, are guys that I've been with since I was a freshman. So it's kind of cool culture because you get to hang out with guys from multiple decathlons and heptathlons over two days. And so you kind of gone into a friendship with a lot of the guys, so it's a good time.

Aaron: Yeah, I saw you were back practicing Monday, right?

Brendan: Yeah, we're back at it. This week is probably a lot like last week. Actually, today, I think we have a special practice for actually long jumping into the pool, which will be an interesting practice, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Aaron: Long jumping into Tarbell pool?

Brendan: Yeah, yeah.

Aaron: I didn't know there was room to run.

Brendan: Yeah, I know where Coach Fresh put on, I think a stripe of mondo and I guess we're going to run off that. And also want to give a shout out to Liam Evans for being my training partner throughout the year, and also he's going to be our life guard this week, so he's always going up big for us, so.

Aaron: And Liam's been competing in the decathlon also, right?

Brendan: Yeah, yeah, and that's been nice. I think last year, not having a guy to train with was kind of tough, but this year, he kind of holds me accountable in the workouts, and just in all avenues. And I'm really looking forward to next year with all the other multis.

Aaron: Well, I was going to ask about, you know, the waiting game now, right? It's kind of you have to wait, and you find out I guess, officially Friday if you're going to be in or not?

Brendan: Yeah, so my score is 6,458 in, I think, pretty much every year in the past 10 years or so that score has gone. Usually the cut off is right around 3550, but only time will tell. A lot of the schools, the reality is NCAA Division Three is getting a lot more competitive, particularly for track some scores that we've seen this year posted, the qualifications are that much harder like some athletes who are All-Americans at this school, what they scored at NCAAs would not qualify, which is crazy to me. But it's also just the way at which sports work, but in terms of waiting game, I'll find out probably end of the week whether or not I'm going but I think right now 14th should be a good enough position to buy me a trip to NCAAs, so. Yeah.

Aaron: We're looking forward to that, hopefully. And then going back, you know, at New English championships, you won the New England championships, you got the New England title, and that was a PR, and then you came back another PR this past weekend and got third at open New Englands but in terms of New England title, what was that experience like to be the best in the region there?

Brendan: Yeah, I mean, so, technically, I'm not the best in the region because it's also humbling because I've got guys like C.J. Mooney and William Canty, who actually just beat me at opens, but they specialize in other events, and they just came off tough conference meets, so I was in a cool position where I was able to really nail that home. But in terms of the multis in New England, it's getting a lot more competitive than it has been some scores in the past that had been posted, really, they were like top three, they no longer will place. And so that's pretty cool, it's a cool direction, because also we could have 20 percent of the field at nationals be guys from New England, so that's pretty cool to be part of that culture. And I'm really looking... it was a cool opportunity to be able to finally say, yeah, I was New England champ, as well as be able to do it alongside with Liam placing high. So that was a good experience for sure.

Aaron: Absolutely. So it's kind of weird question but there's 10 events, are there any events you don't practice as much just because you kind of either A, have it down or B, doesn't require as much practice?

Brendan: Yes. So throughout the year, we didn't really practice long jump a lot but now that's kind of biting me in the butt. Yeah, so it's kind of returning back to... or I really never had really great long jump form, and so I think we're trying to nail that home before I end up going. But yeah, there are some events that you don't practice as much some weeks, and oftentimes, you have to sacrifice certain events for other events but in the end, it works out. But in terms of technical events, you kind of really have to work on pole vault the most because there's a lot of points to be had there, and also, it's what separates the good multis from the bad.

Aaron: Right. Yeah, I feel like pole vault is extremely tough, and maybe a little scary. I don't know how much you enjoy doing the pole vault, is that one of your favorites?

Brendan: It has grown to be. There're times where like, I'm scared to death, but overcoming those mental breaks is really what makes you better as an athlete and just as a human. Yeah, but in terms of pole vault in general I do love it now so. Yeah.

Aaron: All right. Well, any other thoughts on the possibility of going to nationals, and if so what have you talked to Coach Fresh about in terms of what that experience is like?

Brendan: Yeah. So I'm really excited. I'm especially excited to be able to do with Johnny Rex. Johnny and I, I don't know if you've heard but we used to scoop ice cream together as... four years ago, so he's one of my good friends for a long time. So that's pretty cool, it's kind of always been a pipe dream for us to be able to say like, oh, yeah, let's go to NCAAs together, and so that'll be unreal to fulfill that with him. Also just having Fresh as a mentor, also coach Ellis, and Art, and Curtis being able to work with those guys day in and day out, it's kind of cool to kind of see their hard work has paid off, and now it's coming to fruition. So I'm excited to be a part of that.

Aaron: I'm curious. You're from New Hampshire, though, right? Isn't he from Massachusetts? How did you guys scoop ice cream together?

Brendan: Yeah. So he summers in Wolfeboro. Yeah, and I'm a long term resident. But he... so one summer he came in, and applied, and then we gave him the job, and he walked in, and we instantly became friends. So it was it's pretty, pretty funny that we ended up here together, and now on the same track team, and finding our way to NCAAs so.

Aaron: Nice. So this was in high school?

Brendan: Yeah, so it was his sophomore year, being in my junior year.

Aaron: Wow. Okay. And at the time like did you both know... you probably both did not know you wanted the same college by any means.

Brendan: No. So he actually came and visited, I gave him Fresh's email. He didn't even think he wanted to throw in college, and it was more just like he was heading football route, and I was like, hey, man, you should really reach out to coach Freshh I think you'd enjoy him, and I have. And so he reached out, and the rest is history.

Aaron: The women’s 4 by 800 relay team of first-year Mary Corcoran, sophomore So Kim, senior captain Sarah Rothmann and senior captain Ayden Eickhoff broke the program record by nearly four seconds with a time of 9:06.63, good for second-place at Open New Englands. It’s the fastest time 4 by 800 time run by an NCAA Division III team this year. And they are our Female Bobcats of the Week!

Aaron: Sarah Rothmann we had you on last week, and you said the goal was to break the school record, and you did, what was working down there at open New England's?

Sarah: It was crazy, because I was talking Mary Corcoran, the freshman who started out the relay all day, and she kept on bringing it up, and I was like, I know we want this, but like while it's been a long day, and just like you just never know what's going to happen. But then she started off the relay just so strong, and really put us in the race, so I was like, wow, we're in this, and we can do it, and just with each leg, it became more and more real. And it was just... it felt super special to actually see it come through.

Aaron: So Mary as a first-year getting the lead off this race, what's the experience been like for you?

Mary: It was amazing, I think... yeah, I was definitely talking to Sarah the whole day, warming up with everyone because I think, as my season individually in my individual events ended, I got really, really excited about this relay. And I think... like I didn't have too many expectations going into the New England Division Three meet, and after we ran that 9:15 it was kind of like, wow, like, this is crazy. Like, this is real, and we could really go for this. I think like, as we've go on that hour before we started to feel a little nervous, we were kind of talking we were like, oh, it's okay if we don't get it and we were like let's just run, like we've already done so well like... and I think we were kind of all on the same page going in, like, we're just all going to compete and do our best for each other and just put it all out there.

Mary: And I think that's what happened and it was awesome.

Aaron: Well, as a first-year do you realize how hard it is to break a school record here? I mean that's pretty impressive, it doesn't happen every year.

Mary: Yeah, and it's just like an amazing group of people, and I think it's really special that... I don't know that there's been a lot of amazing mid-distance runners in the program, and I've just heard so much about that. And it's crazy in my first year that I've been able to be at the same time as three other awesome people and to be able to run with them.

Aaron: And then we got So Kim here with us who on the women's soccer team, obviously, prepares you a little bit for track I imagine with all that running, what's it been like this year with this group?

So: It's honestly been amazing, like freshman year of running with Sarah and Ayden during most of the workouts and stuff like that, and then just running with Mary, she's been really, really awesome, too. And I think just again, like same mindset, just going into it, it was just like last one, let's just give it our all kind of deal. And especially with running with like our two seniors, I think that was just something that I was definitely going to be cherishing. And yeah, like, we all worked really, really hard, and just, each of us just ran our race, and I think that just like really, really helped and worked out really well so.

Aaron: Well, and Ayden I mean going in an eighth seed getting to second in this race against Division One, Division Two opponents. I mean, that's pretty special isn't it?

Ayden: It was very special and as the fourth leg, I watched the whole thing play out while this was happening, and I actually went down to where some of our coaches and other teammates were standing supporting us, and I was like, these girls ran out of their minds, like, I gotta go. And that was... It was really just like, when we went from a position like as you said in eighth sort of like, not really expecting to be up in the first part of the race, it was truly, truly amazing to watch. We went through the first leg, and then as the other legs went on, we held our position, and people were just running so well, so strong, and so confidently, that going into the last leg my goal was to get the person in front of me, but I knew that I just really wanted to do the best I could for the time. 

Aaron: Yeah. Do you have any sense of the time when you get... I mean, how does that work?

Ayden: I was trying to like quickly do some mental math, I didn't actually know exactly where our school record was. But I knew it was around like 9:12. Is that what it was?

Mary: Like 9:10.

Ayden: 9:10, and I think I went through at like 7:50, something like that. So I was really trying to like, do the math and try to figure out what I would have to run. And Jay, at one point during the race, said like you can do it, but you really have to run. So that inspired me in the last 300 of a challenging race.

Aaron: So Mary, after having led off the race, you get to watch the other three go. What was that experience like for you?

Mary: Yeah, I was definitely trying to do the math going through seeing everything coming through and that was definitely a hard one, I was on the ground while watching everyone else, I think in other races this season, like I've been like walking up and down trying to see everyone and it was just amazing to see like I put it out there, and then seeing Sarah put everything out there, and So, and Ayden, everyone was just so aggressive, and like Ayden was saying so confident and like fighting for it. And it was just so fun to watch even though I was like lying on the ground while it was happening. Yeah, it was incredible to see it.

Aaron: Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe with the exception of Ayden this was the only event for the...

Mary: Yes.

Aaron: Okay, so, I mean, during the normal track meet I mean, during the regular season, maybe So you might have other events, right? So was it like you just have this one to focus?

So: It was definitely good, nice change. I think with just having this event, it was good to have the entire day to just focus on this specific race and just kind of get everyone together on the same page, and just seeing also the other people who had other races like Ayden and Elise, just being able to cheer them on because especially when you have double races, it's hard to watch other people run. But it's actually with one race at the end of the meet it was really, really nice seeing everyone run their event, and just being able to cheer them on as well, so I thought that was really nice.

Aaron: So Sarah, that was the last race for you now. Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah, it's crazy. I used to always run four by eights in high school, I remember we used to run 9:30s or whatever, and I was like, wow, that's crazy. And then coming into this meet and seeing that what... we had all the pieces all year, and just kind of seeing it all come together. I was talking to Mary, we both weren't thrilled with how be raised individually this year, so being able to kind of finish it off with this really special group of girls was just beyond special and seeing Ayden run that last leg, I just... there're no words, and we've been on so many relays together, done so many workouts, and it was just really like I couldn't have asked for a better ending. I'm very thankful for that.

Aaron: What do we have to do to petition the NCAA to to make this an event? I mean Ayden, I know you'll be running the 800 individually, though, right, coming up? Is that-

Ayden: Yeah, I actually haven't quite decided what... I think I'm leaning towards the 800, but we will see, I'll talk through that with Jay. But I've really wanted to break that 2:10 barrier in the 800 for awhile now. And you know, this is the last weekend. So yeah, I'm looking forward to that but just to go back to the relay, it was really, really cool. There was no weak link really, and we just kept getting stronger throughout the race and catching that girl at the end was just the cherry on top, but so many things built up to that to make that possible.

Aaron: So talking to the two underclassmen here in terms of from the relay, obviously four by eight great... I mean, these two are graduating, though. So looking ahead, maybe the next year, from individual point of view, from relay point of view, what are some goals you maybe have in your mind right now?

So: That's a good question. I think just as of now, individually just staying in shape, and also just striving to always just, you know, get a PR, and things like that. And I think the most important thing is to be able to just support one another through that because track can get a very... especially it's a sport where you're like aiming for times and that can like... it's very mental, so I think just being there as a teammate being there outside as a team, and as well off the track just being there to support one another, I think that's going to be really, really important moving forward as a team.

Aaron: How about you Mary?

Mary: Yeah, I mean, I think just trying to bring our best selves to practice every day like So was saying, it's hard thinking about times all the time, and it does get really mentally taxing. So I think we've had such great role models on this team, people that just come and work their hardest, and when everyone's here trying their best every day, I think it just brings everyone up. So I think just trying to stay true to that and following in the footsteps of these two awesome seniors and other awesome upperclassmen trying to create that team culture for the younger people that come in, and just keep working hard. And I think the results will come.

Aaron: Last word for these seniors here, Sarah look at these underclassmen, pretty optimistic about the future for women's track and field here.

Sarah: I just want to say like going back to the relay this weekend, I know that I was personally pushed by these two underclassmen like I was... like all year, I've been running the same 2:20 800 time, and been pretty fine with that. And then Mary saying like no, we are going under 2:20 and I was like, okay, Mary like whatever you say, and then I saw her run that first leg, and she did, and I was like okay, you know what? I can too, and I did. And I kind of attribute that to these... That's what's so beautiful about four by eight. It's not... you're not just running for yourself, you're running for the team, and I think that these girls, they can push their seniors, they can definitely push the team going forward. And I'm really excited read about them in the paper and look for them in the news, because I know that they're going to be a special group of girls.

Aaron: Some of your thoughts Ayden?

Ayden: Yes, the underclassmen, we have a fairly sort of wonky team because we have a lot of underclassmen and not a lot of upperclassmen, but I think the future is very bright. And just even with the first-years this year are such a positive, and creative, and hard working group of people that I know that at the very least the freshmen will have the sophomores to look up to, and obviously the captains, and the other wonderful leadership that we will have. But it's certainly a promising future, and as Sarah said, we now get to take on the role of alumni, and I know I just get so much wonderful support from them, and being able to become more of that role will be awesome.

Aaron: All right, Sarah Rothmann, Ayden Eickhoff, So Kim, Mary Corcoran, the fastest four by 800 in Bates women's track and field history and the fastest in Division Three this year. Thanks so much. 

All: Thank you.

Aaron: This weekend, Cold Front, the Bates women’s club Ultimate team, heads to Division III nationals for the fourth straight season. Led by senior captain Josie Gillett, Cold Front is undefeated on the season after finishing second in the country last year. Only 16 teams qualify each year, with pool play set for Saturday in College Station, Texas. The top 8 teams from pool play advance to a single elimination bracket on Sunday. Coached by the husband and wife team of Chase and Mohdis Baker, Cold Front is the top seed this year for the first time. Mohdis Baker played for Cold Front when she attended Bates, graduating in 2014. And we chatted with her on the phone about what makes this team so successful.

Aaron: Mohdis, when you were at Bates, you played Ultimate as well for Cold Front, what was it like then compared to maybe what's it like now, from a coaching perspective?

Mohdis: Yeah, I played in I guess 2010 was my first year, and we had definitely a smaller squad, but a lot of driven women, and it was really a great experience, it was a fun team, very social, but we didn't really set goals for ourselves, and I think that's the big difference between what the team is now, and what it was when I was here.

Aaron: When Josie Gillett obviously has been a key influence, I think, certainly on the team, what's it been like seeing what she's done, since she first came in, because I know you were coaching with the team kind of started when really her first year here, isn't it?

Mohdis: Yeah, exactly. So Josie, obviously brings a lot of experience, and she's just a great leader, she's a natural born leader. So she's been able to sort of empower others to achieve the same results as her which is great. I think a lot of the Ultimate media has been so focused on Josie, but I think we really pride ourselves on bringing and creating depth throughout our entire team. And that way, you know, for example, if a team decides to mark Josie really heavily, we can rely on all the players with no problem. So you know, Josie is excellent, and she's been able to help train our other teammates, and it's been really helpful for the team culture.

Aaron: So how did you first get involved coaching the team after having graduated from Bates in 2014 coaching them just a couple years later?

Mohdis: Yeah, so I'm born and raised in Portland, and have grown up playing Ultimate for over 10 years now, so even though I graduated, I couldn't really leave Cold Front. And so I came back the year after, and started just volunteering every once in a while helping the girls out, running some practices, running some drills. And then after that, it became more of a commitment, especially when Josie's class year came through, and they really demonstrated that they wanted to be competitive, and so they were all and so I was all in, and then I met my husband at that time Chase who also comes from an Ultimate background. We both started doing it together, and it became a really fun, competitive atmosphere for all of us.

Aaron: Excellent. It must be nice to know, the team can also, you know, coach themselves when you're not there, right? Because I know, you're there about half the practices and the team is able to really kind of handle things on their own when you're not there, that must provide a lot of comfort, I guess, right? Knowing that they're not going to be goofing around when you're not there.

Mohdis: Exactly. Yeah, they're all super disciplined. I think that comes with just being a Batesee really, you know, so yeah, they're all very organized, and they make sure they want to get the job done with the time that we do have with the field space.

Aaron: I know professor Lynne Lewis had a big role in founding the team, basically, you know, few years back, what was it like working with her when you were here as a student?

Mohdis: Oh, yeah. Lynne was great. She, again, I was the only one who really had that high school experience but Lynne had so much experience prior, and she's seen many different Ultimate strategies, and really provided a lot of knowledge for us, which was super helpful. And it was always great having somebody connected to the school, who was also passionate about the sport that you could go to and rely on for stuff like that.

Aaron: In terms of going to Division Three nationals, I know for women's Ultimate they started in 2010, so around the time you were starting at Bates, but when you were at Bates, could you have ever imagine Cold Front going to nationals, not only that, but going for four straight years and finishing second in the country last season?

Mohdis: Never, never, it was actually pretty humorous, my senior year, we played in the game to go to nationals, and almost won. And we thought, oh, gosh, if we had one that we would have had to miss graduation, and it was not a priority for us at that time. And now, people are skipping their family events, and family functions to go to nationals, and we have, I think, around 30 family members coming to Texas to watch their daughters play, which is amazing.

Aaron: And what was the experience like seeing the team get second last year in the entire country?

Mohdis: Oh, my goodness, the adrenaline was really high for everybody, of course, and it was incredible because they live streamed it. So people at home were watching, I know the Portland Ultimate community is really supportive of Bates, and all the parents are super supportive. And you know, we had to catch a flight in an hour, so our brains were sort of tousled everywhere, and it was just really great. And it was great to get a taste of it, and I think this year, we want that back, and now that we know what it's like to get that far, we just want to go even further.

Aaron: Well, yeah, and the team is undefeated regional champions for the first time. What makes this year's team such... I mean, Josie, obviously, being a senior helps, what else makes this team so strong you think?

Mohdis: Sure. So the first-years who have been playing for... let's see, four years now have grown to be such incredible leaders, and super confident on the field, and they've helped to teach everybody under them. So it's really just great that we are bringing up all of our newer players, and you know, people like Josie, who have been playing for over 10 or up to 10 years now have helped those who've only been playing for six months. And you would never be able to tell that experience discrepancy there, so it's really great.

Aaron: One of the fun things about this team is there's a tradition of giving nicknames to the players after their first year playing. Did that develop during your timer or that was before you were playing at Bates even when that happened?

Mohdis: Oh, that's been a tradition way before my time. Everyone gets the nickname, which is really fun, because it really makes you feel like you have a deep connection to the team, and you know, people call you that in class, or in commons, and it's just really fun to have that other side. So yeah, I actually have one myself.

Aaron: What's yours?

Mohdis: Mine is promo, because I had prior experience, they called me professional, so they shortened that to promo. But really the short form of that is Mo.

Aaron: Got you. And I understand you're pretty involved in like the Maine Ultimate community kind of in general, right? What's those efforts been like kind of growing the sport within the state?

Mohdis: Yeah, so I help captain a mixed club team in Portland, and I also try to captain the summer league teams here, and help out with the other minor leagues, and even help direct some of the youth tournaments. And I think it's just really important that we keep bringing the youth, and getting them involved, especially in summer league, where it's not as competitive as say college or club, it's really important that we are teaching these newer players so that they stick with it and keep growing the sport as much as possible.

Aaron: Great. Well, last question for you Mohdis, any other thoughts on Cold Front heading down to College Station, Texas this weekend and what you're looking forward to most perhaps?

Mohdis: Yeah, I mean, I think the climate will be a huge change for us, but honestly, if we've seen some possible storm or tornado warnings, and we are hoping for that Cold Front is known for being able to play in any type of extreme weather, and I think our training in the north will really help us excel down south compared to some other teams around the country. But yeah, we're just excited to go to a new state to play, and have fun with our friends, and get to spend one last full weekend together.

Aaron: All right, Mohdis Baker, thank you so much for joining us on the Bobcast, really appreciate it.

Mohdis: Thank you.

Aaron: Next time on the Bates Bobcast, we’ll preview the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Plus, a look back on the baseball and lacrosse seasons. All that and more, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!