No. 1 women's rowing wins fifth NESCAC title, earns automatic bid to NCAA Championships

The No. 1 nationally ranked Bates women's rowing team is headed to the NCAA Championships for the 13th straight year. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

WORCESTER, Mass. -- The No. 1 nationally ranked Bates women's rowing team left no doubt Sunday at the 2019 National Invitational Rowing Championships, winning a third straight NESCAC title and securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, winning three gold medals along the way. 

The first varsity eight grand final at the NIRC regatta determines both the NESCAC champion and who receives an automatic bid to NCAAs. 

In the morning heat, which featured seven boats, the Bates first varsity eight prevailed with a time of 6:46.167, qualifying for the grand final and finishing a solid six seconds ahead of runner-up Hamilton. In the grand final, Hamilton fell off the pace and Bates dominated, winning by open water with a time of 6:46.525. Wellesley took second place with a time of 6:53.397 and WPI finished third in 6:54.941. Wesleyan was the top NESCAC finisher besides Bates, crossing the finish line in 6:56.813, good for fourth out of six boats. 

Although the first varsity eight boat is the only one that matters at the NIRC in terms of qualifying for NCAAs and winning the conference title, the Bobcats turned in outstanding performances as usual across the board.

The women's open four kicked things off for Bates Sunday and the Bobcats won their heat with a time of 8:03.622, 12 seconds ahead of runner-up Wellesley. Then early in the afternoon the open four took home the gold medal with a time of 8:07.689, eight seconds ahead of second-place University of New Hampshire. It marks the third open four gold medal for the Bates women in program history at NIRCs. 

Meanwhile, just like the first varsity eight, the second varsity eight won its third gold medal in a row at NIRCs, and fifth overall. 

After winning its heat by 10 seconds over Wellesley with a time of 6:54.915, the Bobcats came back later in the day and took the grand final as well, finishing with a time of 6:58.465, nearly 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Tufts.

The Bates third varsity eight took home a silver medal on Sunday, winning its heat with a time of 7:10.728 and finishing four seconds behind Williams in the grand final. The Ephs won with a time of 7:02.972 and Bates finished in 7:06.788. It was basically a two-crew race, as third-place Smith finished 12 seconds behind Bates.

The Bobcats will send their first and second varsity eight boats to the NCAA Championships May 31-June 1 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Bates is looking for its third straight national title and fourth in the last five years. 

Bates WV8 lineup: Bow: Grace Smith; 2: Emma Wheeler; 3: Grace Bake; 4: Catharine Berry-Toon; 5: Hannah Beams; 6: Sally Harris Porter; 7: Hannah Fitts;  Stroke: Lena Rintell; c: Elizabeth Folsom

Bates W2V8 lineup: Bow: Saylor Strugar; 2: Claudia Glickman; 3: Lillian Kinder; 4: Sophie Claus; 5: Emma York; 6: Elizabeth Fischer; 7: Phoebe Long; Stroke: Grace Murnaghan; c: Maya Seshan 

Bates W3V8 lineup: Bow: Sydney Paul; 2: Elizabeth Fairman; 3: Kathryn Richards; 4: Elizabeth Johnson; 5: Carla Guichard; 6: Sophia Marota; 7: Elektra Smicka; Stroke: Martha Bishop; c: Elise Grossfeld 

Bates WO4+ lineup: Bow: Olympia Fisher; 2: Emma Vieten; 3: Grace Purinton; 4: Adrianne Crawford ; c: Kathryn Brown