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Blog – Friends of Hamilton Rowing
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Team Updates

Spring Season Wrap up

After twelve weeks of focusing so much time and energy on training and racing, the conclusion of the spring rowing season always seems to come so abruptly. And given the historic levels of success our men’s and women’s teams enjoyed this season, I was particularly sad to see it end. 2017-‘18 was by all accounts the most successful year in program history. After notable finishes last fall at Head of the Genesee, Head of the Charles, and Head of the Schuylkill, both the men and women got off to a quick spring start by sweeping all four varsity eight events at the John Hunter Regatta in Gainesville, Georgia, at the end of spring break. And the accomplishments piled up from there. Our student-athletes have much to be proud of; some of our season highlights include:

  • the men’s and women’s teams swept in-state rivals Union and St. Lawrence for the third year in a row (the races against SLU were canceled in 2016 due to weather);
  • our MV8 were a perfect 3-0 against both RIT and Ithaca, including a thrilling come-from- behind win over Ithaca (we were down six seats with 500m to go);
  • our WV8 and 2V8 were likewise perfect against RIT and William Smith in three head-to-head encounters, while the 2V8 beat Ithaca on two occasions;
  • Hamilton crews medaled in six (six!) events at the NY State Collegiate Championships, including gold in the W2V8 and the WN4+;
  • the MV8 and 2V8 each made their respective B Finals at the National Invitational Rowing Championships;
  • our WV8 won the B Final at NIRC, while the 2V8 made the A Final, finishing sixth;
  • our women’s open 4+ took home a bronze medal at NIRC;
  • the WV8 finished the season ranked in the top ten in Division III for the fourth consecutive year, after being ranked as high as fourth in the coaches poll for three straight weeks;
  • our women’s team (V8 and 2V8) also finished the season ranked first in the NCAA’s official New York region rankings (ahead of Ithaca, who earned the Liberty League automatic bid to the NCAA Championships); the V8 also beat Wellesley head-to-head, who is going to the Championships from the NEWMAC, and both crews beat WPI and Pacific Lutheran, also going as at-large bids.

While the women came up just short of earning a bid to the NCAA Championships, they had a remarkable season by any measure, as did the men. In that vein, I thought I should provide some more context and information regarding NCAA selection. Earning a bid – particularly racing in our conference and our region – is extremely difficult. Only eight teams go to the Championships, and if they took the best eight teams in the country, I’m confident we would have received a bid, but NCAA selection isn’t about choosing the top eight teams. The way the championships is structured, the goals are regional/conference inclusion and developing the sport across the country. That’s the reason for all of the automatic qualification bids and the regional representation rule, which states that each of the four DIII regions (Mid-Atlantic, New England, New York, and Pacific) must be represented. So, here’s how it broke down….

The four conference automatic bids went to Bates (NESCAC), Ithaca (Liberty League), Washington College (MARC), and Wellesley (NEWMAC). A fifth bid went to Pacific Lutheran in order to meet the regional representation rule. The three remaining at-large bids were awarded to WPI, Wesleyan, and Williams. The  selection committee weighs late-season results very heavily, and the fact that those teams finished ahead of us at NIRC hurt our case. As outlined above, however, and as I argued to the committee, we can boast very strong results against teams selected for the championships. I maintain that we’re good enough to have gone (and seeing results from today’s heats bears that out), but the process and our results at NIRC didn’t work in our favor.

So we look ahead to next year and continuing the momentum that we’ve built. How do we do that? Hard work comes to mind first, and I think our student-athletes proved that they aren’t afraid of that. Second, we have to keep holding ourselves to the high standards that we’ve worked to set over the past four years – we can’t go back to settling for mediocrity. Third, we have to keep recruiting. Novice walk-ons will continue to be critical to our depth and growth (some of our very best athletes have been and are walk-ons), but we have to bring in a handful of talented and experienced athletes every year. Finally, we have to work to raise the money necessary to give our student-athletes the absolute best experience possible during their years as Continentals. Make no mistake, we enjoy tremendous support from the College, the athletic department and Director of Athletics Jon Hind. Department funding covers most of our necessities: travel, meals, accommodations, uniforms, equipment maintenance, and of course coaches’ compensation. There is one huge need, however, where the College asks us to help ourselves: the purchase of boats and oars. Our goal is to implement a fleet maintenance program that will allow us to purchase new boats for each team every four years. That way anyone who is a member of the team for four years will enjoy having a new boat added to the fleet during his or her time at Hamilton. Perhaps as important, this will put us on par with our NESCAC peers, each of whom also fundraises for new boats on a regular basis.

This past year, we added three new boats to our fleet: an eight for the women, an eight for the men, and a four that we can use for women or lightweight men. Coach Hind fronted the money for us to buy these shells without delay with the understanding that the program would pay a portion back to the department through fundraising. I’m appealing to you as supporters of the program to help us do that with gifts in whatever amount you feel is appropriate. Not only will your support with this have the impact of helping us meet an immediate financial obligation, but it will have a lasting impact by helping us establish the foundation of our long-term fleet maintenance program. If you wish to make a gift, you can either mail a check payable to Trustees of Hamilton College to my attention at 198 College Hill Road Clinton, NY 13323, or you can donate with a credit card online – just be sure to indicate your gift is in support of the rowing program. Thank you for your consideration of this request and your continued support of our student-athletes. For any interested individuals or groups of individuals, there are naming opportunities available – please contact me directly to discuss.

September and fall racing will be upon us before we know it. We will be hosting our annual Bridge-to-Bridge Regatta, as well as traveling to Rochester, Boston, and Philadelphia for an exciting schedule of head of the river racing. We hope to see you along the way, and if not, we hope that you’ll follow us on Instagram (@hamiltoncollegerowing) and Twitter (@HamCollRowing) to keep up with the latest news.

Have a great summer, and Go, Blue!

Robert Weber, Head Coach

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Head of the Charles

On Saturday, October 19th, the Hamilton Crew team traveled to Boston to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta. The Head of the Charles is the largest regatta in the world and attracts some of the best crews worldwide. The event is also one of the largest sporting events in the country as it attracts upwards of 300,000 spectators to the banks of the Charles River, including many Hamilton Alumni. With such prestige and competition, this race was considered the pinnacle of the fall season.

The Hamilton Men’s and Women’s teams competed in the Collegiate eights events in the afternoon. The course can be very challenging for the coxswains to handle due to the number of crews on the river and the amount of bridges required to squeeze through on the windy course. The varsity women’s eight coxswain, Chloe Hensold, was able to successfully steer the eight to a 12th place finish out of 34 boats. Their time of 18:07 was faster than many of Hamilton’s traditional opponents, including Ithaca, Trinity and Weslyan. Additionally, the women’s boat (coxswain-Chloe Hensold; stroke-Shana Weinberg; 7-Kate McMullen; 6-Liz Lamdin, 5-Kate Wardwell, 4-Hilary King, 3-Kristin Dillner, 2-Kalin Jaffee, and Bow-Liz McPhillips) placed within 5% of the winning time, which secured a guaranteed entry in next year’s regatta. This race was a turning point in the season for the varsity women. It placed them among the elite in Division III rowing and gave them a sense of confidence that they could compete well against top schools in future races.

Racing for the men were Coxswain-Matt Baum, Stroke-Kevin Hall, 7-Steven Larson, 6-Adam Schayowitz, 5-Pete Coxeter, 4-Josh Huling, 3-Tom Goolsby, 2-Henry Chicaiza and bow-Colton Riley. The Men finished 28th in a time of 16:55 out of 41 crews. Unfortunately, a collision with the Duke boat caused one of the oars to become stuck in the water and slowed the boat down, preventing them from having results that matched their potential. For 6-seat Adam Schayowitz, “It was an awesome weekend of rowing. The Charles is the pinnacle of fall rowing. We were not as successful as we would have liked, and unfortunately did not execute our plan. Nonetheless it was great to be there and be part of such a race.”

Article by: Tom Wines

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Tom Wines Joins Hamilton Crew as Intern Coach

Starting this fall, Tom Wines will serve as this year’s athletic intern for the rowing team. Aside from helping out in the office, Tom’s primary responsibility this year will be to coach the novice men’s squad. With Mike Gilbert working the varsity and Catherine Gilbert coaching primarily the large novice women’s squad, Tom’s addition allows all the athletes to receive more personal coaching.
Tom was a four-year rower and 2002 graduate from Colgate University, down the road on Route 12b. At Colgate, Tom was a member of a successful varsity eight that competed at the San Diego Crew Classic, the IRA championship regatta and the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta in England and ended the season as one of the top 25 crews in the country.

Article by: Matt Baum

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Four New Single Shells Added To Boathouse

Last spring, the crew team made the transition from being a sweep-only rowing team to incorporating sculling as a way to better prepare for races. With the addition of four new single shells, Head Coach Mike Gilbert now has much more flexibility in formatting workout plans. An avid sculler himself, Head Coach Gilbert lists many benefits to training in singles. Because the single is rowed by only one person, the rower’s technical faults become more apparent to him or her. Once the rowers are able to feel the effect of their technical faults, it is much easier to improve their technique. Aside from improving the technical expertise of the rowers, the single sculls also introduce an increased amount of competitive training since individuals can test their skills against one another. This fall, varsity rowers will take a break from rowing the 8 at various points in the season and will compete against each other in time-trials to see how they stand against the other rowers. Those who do well in the time-trials will have the opportunity to represent Hamilton College by racing the single sculls in the fall regattas.

Article by: Tom Wines

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Tent Makes a Return This Fall

After its being out of commission last year, the Friends of Hamilton Crew can once again enjoy the regatta experience under the cover of the team’s 10′ x 20′ tent. To find the Hamilton contingent at any of the fall and spring regattas, look for the buff colored tent, which has “Hamilton College Crew”, printed along the top. There will usually be a table set up under the tent, so feel free to bring along some food to share. The rowers are always spent after the races and always look forward to replenishing their energy with tasty food. The regattas are always a great way to spend a day where one can root on the crew to victory, enjoy the company of friends and family, and enjoy beautiful weather. Now once again, the tent will ensure that the first two aspects of a regatta will still stand true even if the latter doesn’t cooperate.

Article by: Tom Wines

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Hamilton Wins Head of the Erie Points Trophy

Four weeks of physical and mental training was exhibited this past weekend at the Head of the Erie as Hamilton College’s “Blue Crew” burst upon the scene, taking first or second in every event in which they participated and, in the end, breaking Colgate’s two-year streak by winning the regatta’s Points Trophy.

The weekend began with Club events on Saturday. Hamilton entered in several small boats races taking on local clubs and individuals. Since only a few clubs attended and USMMA was the only college to show that day, the results of the races in which Hamilton participated were fairly predictable.

The real competition arrived Sunday. On what was a beautiful day with a slight head wind, Hamilton showed its intensity. The first race, the Men’s 8+, was a heated battle as Hamilton, who started a length of open water or so down on Colgate, attempted to shorten the distance, with Colgate striving to hold them off. In the end, only five seconds separated their times, Hamilton slightly behind. The novice men also put on a good show, but were unfortunately bested by USMMA.

In the next event, the Women’s 8+, the Hamilton ladies fought hard against the Ithaca women, refusing to give in and earning a solid second place. Hamilton’s second women’s boat also showed spirit, but were eventually out-powered by both of Colgate’s boats in the event. The novice women also did a respectable job, pulverizing the USMMA ladies by over a minute.

The highlight of the day was the Men’s 4+ event. After already participating in the tiring eights race, the Hamilton B boat, made up of Kevin Hall, Steven Larson, Josh Huling and Colton Riley, broke open the competition and walked their way to victory. The Hamilton A boat also did a nice job, beating out USMMA’s A boat.

The culmination of Hamilton’s efforts was the reward of the Points Trophy, which Colgate had hoped to win for the third time in a row this year. Of some note is that this is the first time that Hamilton has won the trophy. The entire team, especially the seniors, were pleased with the results of this past weekend and can only assume that Hamilton’s win at the Erie bodes well for the rest of the season.

Article by: Matt Baum

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Varsity Men Presented with Mayor’s Cup at Head of Mohawk

After a very successful weekend at the Head of the Erie the Hamilton rowers turned their attention to the Head of the Mohawk regatta. The race was held on the Mohawk River in Schenectady and included many of the same colleges that will face Hamilton again in the spring. Eager to give the competition something to worry about this winter, the rowers were out to impress.

Of all the races this year, the Head of the Mohawk may have been one of the most difficult to steer. The course included a sharp 180-degree turn that the coxswain must maneuver through with the shell moving at full racing speed. Adding to the challenge, a strong wind produced high white caps on the river. At this race, the Hamilton coxswains were given an opportunity to showcase their skills.

The highlight of the day was the Men’s Varsity 8 race. The Hamilton boat of Matt Baum, Kevin Hall, Steven Larson, Adam Schayowitz, Pete Coxeter, Josh Huling, Thomas Goolsby, Henry Chicaiza, and Colton Riley won the Open Men’s Eight race in a time of 17:01. For their efforts, the mayor of Schenectady awarded them the “mayors cup” trophy. 5-seat, Pete Coxeter, remarked afterwards that they had rowed a “great race.” Remarking on the difficult turns, Coxeter said, “Despite the amount of steering needed, we were able to row a strong and consistent race, keeping the amount of time it took to row each 500 meters exactly where we wanted it.”

In the Open Womens 8, Hamilton’s Varsity finished second in a large field of 9 shells in an impressive performance. The JV boat was in the same race and in a solid performance finished 6th place. Later on in the day, Julia Morgan, Hilary King, Kristin Dillner, Kalin Jaffe and Becky Kessler went back on the water and competed in the Open Four race. They placed in 3rd, only 6 seconds off the winning time. “We rowed really well despite ocean-like conditions and never rowing together beforehand,” commented bow-seat Becky Kessler.

In the novice races, Hamilton had a difficult time with the unfavorable conditions. In the Novice Women’s Eight race, Hamilton entered two boats and finished 6th and 7th out of 10 boats. The Novice Men put in a good effort and finished the race 6th out of 7 boats.

Article by: Tom Wines

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Head of the Housatonic

On Saturday, October 12, the Crew Team headed to the Head of the Housatonic in Derby, Conn. before traveling to race at the larger and more competitive Head of the Connecticut on Sunday. On the back-to-back racing, Adam Schayowitz commented, “This was a long weekend of rowing, everyone rowed at least 4 times if not more. This was a great test of endurance training and fitness.”

The Head of the Housatonic has historically proven to be a difficult head race to win, since it is the Yale’s home course. Aside from being one of the oldest collegiate teams in the country, Yale has the advantage of practicing daily on the river. The novice men’s boat of Dan Horowitz, Chris Abbott, Andreu Viader Valls, Chris Knorr, Dan Nelson, Ernasto D. Medina Gomez, Brendan Sullivan, Kosta Popovic, and Axtell Arnold rowed well and put together one of their best races of the fall. They ended up finishing 3rd, winning bronze medals and losing to two Yale boats. The “Yale factor” also prevented the varsity men from claiming the Gold as they lost to 2 Yale heavyweight boats, a Yale lightweight boat and a boat consisting of recent Yale alums.

In addition to rowing in the Open 8 race, the varsity men split into fours with Chloe Hensold, Kevin Hall, Thomas Goolsby, Colton Riley in one four and Matt Baum, Josh Huling, Steven Larson, Alex Kaufman, and Chris Martin-McNaughton. The boats finished in 7th and 9th place. After his race, Alex Kaufman commented that, “We were motivated primarily by racing against three varsity Yale boats. We had a good finish, and were able to beat the Yale lightweight four. It was a great course and an exciting venue. There were a lot of good boats on the water, and it definitely made us pull our hardest.”
The varsity women faced stiff competition from Division I schools but held their own in beating the “A” boats from NESCAC foes Amherst and Connecticut College. The varsity women also split into two 4’s with Chloe Hensold, Liz Lamdin, Kate Wardwell, Shana Weinberg and Liz McPhillips in one 4 and Julia Morgan, Hilary King, Kristin Dillner, Kalin Jaffe and Becky Kessler in the other 4. Commenting on her race, Bow-seat Becky Kessler remarked that, “we raced well together. The start was great and we passed several boats during the race.”

Because of the long distance traveled to this race, the novice girls brought only their top boat to the race. The novice women ended up finishing 4th in their race with a time of 18:13.

Article by: Tom Wines

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Head of the Connecticut

The Head of the Connecticut represented a stiff challenge to the crew team. Not only had they exerted themselves the day before at the Head of the Housatonic, but also now they faced the highest level of competition they had seen thus far in the season. The race always attracts a large number of very strong teams hoping to gear up for the Head of the Charles the following weekend.

Continuing their improvement each week, the novice women put together their best rows of the season. The novice women’s first boat that raced this weekend consisted of coxswain- Dorothy Schug, stroke-Jessica Wolinsky, 7-Dana Kirchoff, 6-Courtney McBride, 5-Amanda Bennett, 4-Lisi Krainer, 3- Katie Spencer, 2-Katie Cameron and bow Anne Kurtz. In a large field of 16 boats, the freshmen women placed 8th. Everyone was pleased with this result, as the level of competition was very high with the top spots being taken by traditional rowing powers. After finishing the fall season, freshman Anne Kurtz reflected on her experience: “My favorite race was the Head of the Connecticut. Although the weather was poor it was forgotten once the race started. There was a sense of connection and focus in the boat that had not been as present prior to this race. In addition it was rewarding to know that time and effort that we all put into practice had finally begun to show in a race setting.”

After their recent success at the Head of the Housatonic the novice men were pumped up and hoped to prove that they were a rowing power. Unfortunately, there was some confusion at the start and in their attempts to make up lost time, they weren’t able to row to their full potential. In the end, they finished 11th out of 14 boats.

In the Men’s Intermediate 8 race, the varsity men’s performance was affected by uncontrollable circumstances. About halfway through their race, a high school boat launching from the dock strayed onto the race course colliding with Vassar and creating a Daytona 500-style crash. The Men’s 8 was forced to stop, narrowly missing this crash, and take a longer route. They ended the race in 12th place out of 15, but with their bad fortune in consideration, they looked to be in good shape for the Head of the Charles the next week. The varsity men also entered a boat in the Championship 4’s competition. In a hard fought battle, the men finished 19 out of 26.

Article by: Tom Wines

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Head of the Fish

The last race of the fall was held in Saratoga on October 26th at the Head of the Fish Regatta. Despite the dismal, rainy weather, the rowers were determined to end the fall season strongly. After taking a break from the Head of the Fish last year to compete at the Head of the Schuykill in Philadelphia, Hamilton retuned this year to a regatta that has grown immensely in size. This year,the regatta saw a record size of 900 boats race, including boats from the Canadian National Team.

In the Open Womens Eight race, the varsity finished in 8th place. This result is very respectable considering that the first two places went to the Canadian National Team and that there were 42 entries. In the same race, the second varsity women finished 32nd. This boat was in danger of canceling its race due to the fact that only 7 rowers were available, but fortunately, Coach Catherine Gilbert offered to fill in the last seat. By all accounts, the race was one of their best efforts of the season. The lineup for this race was coxswain, Julie Morgan; Stroke, Caitlin Foley; 7-seat, Becky Benham; 6-seat, Amy Laundauer; 5-seat, Elizabeth Scagnelli; 4-seat, Wendy Garratt-Reed; 3-seat, Alexis Castrovinci; 2-seat, Stephanie Godleski and Coach Catherine Gilbert in the bow.

The Varsity Men fielded an eight and a four at the Fish. In the Open Mens Eight, Hamilton powered through the water to an 11th place finish out of a field of 27 boats. In the Mens Open Four, the Hamilton boat of Matt Baum, Kevin Hall, Steven Larson, Alex Kaufman and Colton Riley finished 21st out of 40 boats.

The Head of the Fish was a last chance for the novice crews to show how much they have improved since the beginning of the year. The women entered both an “A” and a “B” boat and saw the “A” boat finish 13th while the “B” boat came in 38th out of 43 boats. For freshman Elisabeth Krainer, “The Head of the Fish was a personal accomplishment. Although we hit a buoy and caught crabs, I felt like I knew what to expect going into the race and could therefore manage my strength well. Having had actual rowing experience made all the difference for me, mentally.”

In the novice men’s race, the Hamilton boat was victim of ill luck. Shortly after the race started, one of the wheels for the 3-seat came loose and fell off. Resultantly, for the majority of the race, the men were forced to row with only seven rowers. Despite this bad fortune, the men kept their wits about them and finished in a very respectable 11th place of 28 boats racing.

Article by: Tom Wines