WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Simmons College crew team saw its First Varsity Eight and it's Second Varsity Eight squads both place fourth at the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Rowing Championship this morning at the Donahue Rowing Center on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass.
Wellesley College won the conference title for the eighth consecutive year and the ninth time in program history to earn the NEWMAC's automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Division III Championship at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Fla. The Blue will represent the NEWMAC for a ninth consecutive year at this year's NCAA Championships.
Wellesley's sweep of the Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight, Third Varsity Eight, and Fourth Varsity Eight races helped the Blue clinch the Florence Jope Smith Cup, awarded annually to the school with the highest number of points from the overall results at the NEWMAC Championship.
Wellesley, who has now won the overall points award for eight straight years, finished first with 44 points. The Blue were followed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute in second with 30 points. Smith College was third with 22 points, followed by Simmons in fourth with 16 points, United States Coast Guard Academy in fifth with 12 points, Mount Holyoke College in sixth with eight points and Clark University in seventh with four points.
The Sharks 1V8 held off fifth-place Coast Guard by less than one and a half seconds to secure fourth place with a time of 7:38.045, while the Bears posted a mark of 7:40.814. Wellesley captured the varsity eight in a time of 7:07.298 with the host Engineers crossing the line in a time of 7:10.662. Smith took third at 7:23.686. Simmons boat was comprised of senior coxswain Clarice Johnson (Norwell, Mass.), who directed the action ahead of first year stroke Eleanor Thidemann (Belmont, Mass.), who was followed by classmate Samantha Kelsey (Salt Lake City, Utah), senior Ronnie Bennett (Pottstown, Pa.), first year Steffi Gaehde (Brookline, Mass.), sophomore Peizhu Pam Qian (Beijing, China/Developing Virtue Secondary Girls School (Calif.)), and sophomores Emily Saunders (Hebron, Conn.) and Hannah Dike (Leominster, Mass.) and sophomore bow Sabrina Belozerova (Newton, Mass.).
The Simmons Second Varsity Eight left no doubt in it's finish, separating itself from Coast by nearly nine seconds with a time of 8:04.419 with the Bears coming in at 8:13.638. Wellesley registered a winning mark of 7:22.929 compared to WPI's 7:31.655 with Smith reaching the finish line in a time of 7:50.732. Sophomore Ally Fecteau (Burlington, Conn.) commanded the coxswain seat, while senior Elsbeth Colson (Everett, Mass.) helped set the pace from the stroke seat ahead of junior Madison Summers (Hudson, N.H.), first year Elaine Nolan (West Bridgewater, Mass.), junior Christine Yu (Plainville, Mass.), sophomores Lily Pennington (Watertown, Mass.) and Rebecca Ramsey (Jefferson, Mass.), junior Nicole Lee (North Reading, Mass.) and sophomore bow Chloe Feuerstein (Winchester, Mass.).
Kelsey and Bennett were later named to the NEWMAC All-Conference Second Team. It was the third All-Conference nod for Bennett, including a First Team honor in 2016.
The Sharks return to action next week when they return to Lake Quinsigamond to compete in the New England Championship on Saturday, May 5.