DYNASTY! Bates wins third straight NCAA Championship

The celebration is on, after the Bates women's rowing team won the 2019 NCAA Division III Championship in Indianapolis on June 1, 2019. (©Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Taking on the unmistakable look of a dynasty, the Bates College women's rowing team won its third consecutive NCAA Division III Championship, and its fourth in the past five years, Saturday at the Indianapolis Rowing Center.

"I'm so proud to be a part of this team," senior captain Sophie Claus (Beverly, Mass.) said. "There are so many people back home and here supporting us, it's an incredible feeling."

For the second year in a row, and their second time ever, the Bobcats required no math to determine the national championship, by winning the Grand Final for both first and second varsity eights. Bates' W2V8 won its sixth II Eights gold medal in a row by a 6.49-second margin over WPI. Twenty minutes later, the Bobcat WV8 defeated WPI by 5.92 seconds to win the I Eights gold medal for the second time in team history.

Bates' W2V8 began pulling out of an early three-way battle with Wesleyan and WPI about 2:30 into the race. Halfway through, the Bobcats had nearly established an open-water edge over WPI, and the race seemed sewn up before five minutes had elapsed.

Remarkably, Bates won by open water despite dealing with debris in the skeg of the boat for the first 1,500 meters of the race.

"This boat is just unbelievable," junior second varsity eight coxswain Maya Seshan (Wilton, Conn.) said. "It's an incredible group of people. This is just another testament to the fact that Bates rowing is deep and it's strong and we're still here." 

Bates finished the race in 7:18.85, followed by WPI (7:25.34), Wellesley (7:26.99), Wesleyan (7:32.65) and Hamilton (7:33.21).

The I Eights Grand Final was only marginally more competitive for Bates. The Bobcats established a deck-length lead over the competition just a minute into the race. The middle three minutes of the race saw Bates holding a consistent lead of 7-8 seats over WPI. About 4:45 into the race, Bates had established an open-water lead, as the final two minutes became a race for second place behind the defending champions.

Bates' WV8 finished in 7:01.01, followed by runner-up WPI (7:06.93), Wellesley (7:09.11), Ithaca (7:09.56), Wesleyan (7:20.69) and Hamilton (7:23.05).

Bates' two first-place finishes earned the maximum 56 team points, followed by runner-up WPI with 51.

Bates is competing in the NCAA Championship for the 13th consecutive year. Prior to claiming the college's first NCAA team championship in 2015, Bates was the national runner-up for five consecutive years from 2009 to 2013.

"This was a great way to go out," senior captain first varsity eight stroke Lena Rintell (Brookline, Mass.) said. "I feel really excited for all of the others (on this team) who are going to go on and do this again for another one, two or three years."

This is the first year the Bobcats have finished in first place in each race of the national regatta -- in 2018, the Bobcat W2V8 finished second in its preliminary heat.

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 

Alternate: Elizabeth Fairman

Alternate: Carla Guichard

Alternate Cox: Elise Grossfeld