GOLD RIVER, Calif. – Wellesley College crew used a gold medal finish in the Varsity Eight Grand Final and silver medal finish in the Second Varsity Eight Grand Final to win the 2016 NCAA Division III Women's Rowing National Championship on Saturday at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma. Wellesley claims the program's first national championship and the first NCAA team national championship in school history.
In the final team standings Wellesley ended the day with 40 points, four ahead of Bates (36), followed by Williams (35), Pacific Lutheran (27), Washington College (20) and William Smith (19).
"They're amazing, the entire team. Top to bottom, they earned it," said Wellesley Head Coach Tessa Spillane following the Blue victory. "They've just worked really hard together all year."
The Wellesley Varsity Eight of Emilia Ball (Albany, N.Y.), Kathryn Barth (Bellevue, Wash.) Sydney Dollmeyer (Warren, Vt.), Loren Lock (Fond du Lac, Wis.), Molly Hoyer (Newton, N.J.), Olivia Duggan (West Newbury, Mass.), Lauren Bazley (Issaquah, Wash.), Katie Livingston (Wellesley, Mass.) and coxswain Alessandra Zaldivar-Giuffredi (Coral Gables, Fla.) sealed the victory with a gold medal time of 6:46.100 in the Varsity Eight Grand Final. The Blue held the lead throughout the race, holding off rallies from both second place Williams, 6:47.405, and third place Wesleyan (Conn.), 6:47.824, to win the Varsity Eight gold medal for the first time in program history. Bates took fourth in 6:50.996, followed by Pacific Lutheran in fifth with a time of 6:56.763 and Ithaca College in sixth in 7:01.460.
Blue Crew's gold medal finish in the Varsity Eight Grand Final came on the heels of a silver medal finish in the Second Varsity Eight Grand Final. Anna Hakes (Willow Grove, Pa.), Sahar Ibrahim (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), Olivia Thayer (Springfield, Vt.), Grace Howland (Millbrook, N.Y.), Kelsey Campbell (Broomfield, Colo.), Audrey Ellis (Lincolnshire, Ill.), Meg Roberts (Kenilworth, Ill.), Margaret Babikian (Belmont, Mass.) and coxswain Sydney Stento (Boise, Idaho) clocked in at 6:59.315 to finish second in the Second Varsity Eight Grand Final for the second straight year. Bates College took gold in the Second Varsity race, leading from start to finish with an impressive time of 6:50.927. Williams was third in 7:06.509, while Pacific Luthern took fourth in 7:21.713.
"Congratulations Blue Crew and Head Coach Tessa Spillane and assistants Seth Hussey and Hannah Woodruff and all of the scholar athletes on winning Wellesley's historic first team national championship," said Wellesley Athletic Director Bridget Belgiovine following Saturday's action. "Blue Nation is so proud!"
Wellesley, the six-time defending New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) champion, made the program's seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships in 2016.