WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Bates women's rowing team continued to beat every opponent in its path on the way to the NCAA Championship, sweeping all four of its events for the first time in program history Friday at the National Invitational Rowing Championships.
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The No. 1 nationally ranked Bobcats remained undefeated against Division III competition this year, in their final regatta before they head to Sarasota, Fla., to defend their NCAA title. Bates won each of its trial races in the morning, and in the afternoon Bates swept the NIRC grand finals in varsity eights (WV8), second varsity eights (W2V8), third varsity eights (W3V8) and open fours (WO4).
For the fourth NIRC in the past five years, Bates captured first place in the grand final races for women's varsity eights (WV8) and second varsity eights (W2V8). Bates wins its second straight NESCAC Women's Rowing Championship and its third in four years, by virtue of the WV8's grand final victory.
In its grand final, the Bates WV8 crossed the finish line after 2,000 meters on Lake Quinsigamond in 6:24.113, defeating runner-up and No. 2 nationally ranked Ithaca (6:27.126) by 3.013 seconds for the gold medal. No. 3 WPI came in third (6:28.145), followed by Wesleyan (6:30.885), Tufts (6:35.000) and Williams (6:35.171).
The Bates WV8's grand final victory over NESCAC rivals Wesleyan, Tufts and Williams earned the Bobcats their second straight conference championship, and their fourth in the past five years. That in turn gives Bates an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Women's Rowing Championships, which the Bobcats won in 2015 and 2017. This year's national championship regatta takes place May 25-26.
The Bates W2V8 outrowed Williams in their grand final by a margin of more than seven seconds, covering the 2,000 meters in 6:41.057 to Williams' 6:48.358. Wesleyan (6:49.896) was close behind Williams in third, followed by Wellesley, Tufts and Hamilton.
Bates' W3V8 won the closest grand final of the day, defeating runner-up Williams by 2.9 seconds, 6:58.926 to 7:01.906. Wesleyan (7:03.886) took third, followed by wPI, Ithaca and Wellesley.
The Bobcats even dominated open fours, defeating Wellesley (8:15.289) with a time of 8:09.099. Wellesley was followed by Hamilton, WPI, Rochester, Clark and William Smith in the race.