Saratoga Springs, NY --- WPI women's rowing head coach Jason Steele was recently recognized as the 2018 Joy of Sculling Women's Collegiate Coach of the Year.
Steele becomes the second WPI head coach in as many years to collect hardware, joining 2017 men's honoree Larry Noble. Only Trinity (2007 men, 2008 women) and Williams (2010 men, 2011 women) had previously boasted back-to-back men's and women's winners in the collegiate category. The Ephs also swept the 2010 accolades while three time recipient Peter Steenstra won twice with the Bates women and once with the men. Tom Sullivan represented the Holy Cross men in 2005.
Previous NEWMAC honorees include long-time Smith coach Karen Klinger (2004) and two-time selection Tessa Spillane (2011, 2016) from Wellesley. This year's men's honoree was Campbell Woods of Marist while the University selections were Lori Dauphiny of Princeton and Dave Reischman of Syracuse, respectively.
The program shined in its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III Rowing Championships as the varsity eight finished third to help buoy a third place team showing, the highest of any NCAA team sport in school history. The second varsity eight, meanwhile, came home fifth in its grand final.
The varsity eight has been a mainstay in the CRCA/USRowing Division III Coaches Poll the past three seasons, including the top ten during the past two springs. The Engineers lived up to their ranking by finishing third to eventual national champion Bates and Ithaca at the National Invitation Rowing Championships. They also defeated Wesleyan twice, as well as Williams in the final and No. 10 William Smith in the morning heat. At the New England Rowing Championships, WPI again defeated the Cardinals twice while also topping Wellesley, Williams and No. 9 Tufts in the grand final.
In the regular season, the Crimson and Gray bested Tufts to reclaim the Bernard Brown Cup, William Smith three more times, No. 14 Smith twice, including once in the NEWMAC Championship, and No. 15 Colby twice. WPI also met Bates, Ithaca, Wesleyan, No. t6 Hamilton and Williams once and was swept by Pacific Lutheran in three races early in the campaign. Another meeting with Bates and Wellesley, along with No. 11 RIT and Trinity, was called off due to weather.
The second varsity eight defeated Ithaca in the NIRC petite final. The group also split with Pacific Lutheran at the beginning of April and, like the V8, faced six of the seven teams as Washington College did not make a trip to Lake Quinsigamond this past spring.
The Engineers, who bested most of their Division III foes this fall, was third to Bates and Williams at the 2018 Head of the Charles. WPI looks to carry that momentum into the spring 2019 campaign beginning on Saturday, April 6 as WPI, Wesleyan, Smith and Colby will contend for the Jennifer McLaughlin Cup. The opening regatta also includes Hamilton.
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