The Hamilton College women's rowing team eagerly looks ahead to 2015-16 one year after their most successful season since the program achieved varsity status prior to the 1998-99 academic year.

Head coach Rob Weber joined the Continentals in August 2014 after six years at Franklin & Marshall College and had an immediate impact on the women rowers, who had been close to reaching the national stage the past couple of years.

Hamilton received an at-large team bid to the 2015 NCAA Division III Women's Rowing Championship -- the first selection in program history -- and was ranked third in the final Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Division III Top 15 poll of the season. The ranking was the highest ever for the Continentals, and it reflected their bronze medal for the varsity 8 race at the NCAA championship. Hamilton also finished fifth in the second varsity 8 and fourth in the team standings at the NCAA championship outside Sacramento, Calif.

All-American coxswain Heather Piekarz '16 and rowers Keara Lynn '16, Rachel Cooley '18 and Olivia Shehan '18 were all part of the varsity 8 last season. Piekarz, who was placed on the All-America first team, directed the varsity 8 to a gold medal and the team's first state title at the New York State Rowing Championships. The varsity 8 also finished fourth in the grand final at the Eastern College Athletic Conference National Invitational Rowing Championships (ECAC NIRC), defeated Union College to retain the Gilman Plate and bested St. Lawrence University for the Newell Cup.

Five rowers from that varsity 8 graduated in the spring, including Caroline Walton '15. Walton was the best women's rower in school history as she earned three All-America and three NESCAC all-conference team honors. Erin Gerrity '15 joined Walton on the all-NESCAC team last season.

A number of rowers on last year's second varsity 8 will be vying for the spots that are now open on the varsity 8. The list of athletes include: Emily Hedison '17, Claire Callahan '18, Alex Brantl '18, Sam Benevelli '18 and Charlotte Andrews '17, as well as newcomer Emily Tubb '19.

This fall the team travels to Rochester for the Head of the Genesee and to Philadelphia for the Head of the Schuylkill. Hamilton will host the Bridge to Bridge Regatta on the Erie Canal in Rome where its boathouse is located.

The College has a two-week break in March and the rowing programs take advantage of that to train in a warmer climate for much of that time. In 2015 the teams went to Tennessee and then raced at the Memorial Murphy Cup in New Jersey. The New York State Rowing Championships and the ECAC NIRC are also held in the spring. The NESCAC conducts its championships at the ECAC NIRC every year.

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