The women’s rowing team started off the season strong on Saturday, Sept. 28 in the Challenge of the Canal regatta hosted by William Smith College with both first and second varsity eight boats earning first place in their respective events.

The varsity eight boat — which consisted of senior coxswain Julia Evans, freshman Bella Clemente, seniors Rhiannon Vaughns, Kristi Lachiusa and Monika Cepulis, juniors Emily Widra, Serra Sevenler, and Juliana Orlov, and sophomore Clare McMahon — bested four other teams that included William Smith, Ithaca College, Canisius College, and St. John Fisher College.

The 4,000 meter race, or what’s known as a head race, is a timed event with a staggered start. UR crushed the competition, starting fourth and catching up to Ithaca and Canisius, who both started ahead of UR. The ‘Jackets crossed the finish line with a final time of 16:57, good enough for a 17-second lead over their nearest competitor, William Smith. This is particularly impressive because William Smith and Ithaca claimed the top two rankings for New York Division III rowing teams last year.

“It’s definitely a great start to the fall season, because we beat the two top teams in NY,” Widra said. “We are a long way from championship season, but hopefully we’ll keep things on this upward trajectory.”

The second varsity eight had an equally impressive performance, finishing first out of four with a time of 18:11. The crew of sophomore coxswain Amy Elias, juniors Allie Born, Stacy Miller, and Lilly Camp, sophomores Amanda Pelisari, Becky Chu, and Lindsey Willstatter, and freshmen Jessica Bernstein and Alice Bandeian beat out their nearest competitor, William Smith, which came in with a time of 18:18.

Other races of the day included a novice eight and two varsity fours.

This was the first crew race for the all of the novice eight, with none of the rowers having competed in rowing competitions prior to the start of this season. The novice boat finished in a respectable fourth place with a time of 21:53, beating St. John Fisher’s novice boat, which finished with a time of 22:41.

In the varsity fours race, the Varsity A crew of Evans, Clemente, Vaughn, Lachiusa, and Widra finished in second of six with a time of 19:40. The Varsity B crew of Elias, Bernstein, Bandeian, junior Mary Willis, and sophomore Kathy Dupree finished in fourth with a time of 22:43, ahead of William Smith and St. John Fisher.

Next for the YellowJackets will be a pair of home events. First will be the Head of the Genesee regatta, held on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 8 a.m. The following weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 12, the team will host the UR Alumni Challenge at 10 a.m.

Cozen is a member of the class of 2015.

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