Women’s rowing captures best A-10 Championship showing in program history

Women’s rowing earned the runner-up spot in the Atlantic 10 Championship Saturday with its highest team score in program history.

The Colonials, who took 48 points, have steadily increased their standing since their seventh place finish in the 2015 A-10 Championship. The team elevated to fifth in 2016 and placed third in the past two championships.

“This performance was really the culmination of a lot of hard work,” head coach Marci Robles said. “We focused a lot on taking advantage of the opportunity we had and we just got better and better. We couldn’t have asked for a better performance on Saturday.”

Rhode Island defeated the Colonials with 54 points. The program has secured nine second place finishes since its inaugural season in 1996, but GW’s second place finish last weekend marks its highest championship ranking since 2012.

GW medaled in all four events for the third straight season, including a gold medal in the third Varsity 8 Grand Final. The Colonials swept the second heat in all events, allowing them to advance to the Grand Finals.

After the victory in the third Varsity 8, the squad came in second in its three other Grand Finals events. In the second Varsity 8 Final, GW lost to Rhode Island by 1.795 seconds.

While the team have placed in all four events in their last two A-10 Championship appearances, this season marks both its first Grand Final gold medal since 2013 and first third Varsity 8 gold medal in program history. GW finished four seconds behind Rhode Island in the first Varsity 8 race, giving them a second place finish in both the race and the championship overall.

Robles said she knew Rhode Island’s strong first Varsity 8 squad would be tough to beat, but she told her team to focus on factors they could control heading into the weekend.

“When we saw Rhode Island earlier in the season, we were held at second in the V8, so coming into this weekend, we knew it was going to be tough to come out on top,” Robles said.

The Colonials competed in five different competitions throughout the regular season. They closed out the regular season earlier this month with a second place finish in the Georges Cup, where they lost to Georgetown for the first time in four years.

Robles said the Colonials’ physical and mental training throughout the season positioned them in a place where they could give their all during the championship.

“The way we approached the training was a great first step, and obviously you get stronger and faster throughout the improvement and progress,” Robles said. “We also focused a lot on mental training and we can certainly attribute a lot of our success to that skill.”

Four rowers received A-10 accolades after the championship. Freshmen Lauren Bennett and Maxine Cassell were named to the First Team All-Conference and sophomore Laila Shehab and junior Kathryn Donohue received Second Team All-Conference honors. Bennett, Cassell, Shehab and Donohue all rowed in the first Varsity 8 boat over the weekend.

This season is the first under Robles after nine-year head coach Eric Carcich resigned in July. Robles said some of her team’s success comes from the solid foundation the program had been building before she arrived.

“I know that when I came here there was already a lot of good momentum going,” Robles said. “They were getting things right in terms of recruiting and really working toward their goal, so I was fortunate enough to come into a great situation and pick up where they left off.”

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