CHESTERTOWN, Md. — The Washington College men's rowing team, now firmly established as one of the nation's top small-college programs, entered a new era before this past fall's head racing season. Head coach Larry Connell took over the reins of the program as the Shoremen looked to replace the contributions of last year's eight-man senior class, which included one of the top rowers in team history in Ryan Miranda.
Despite those changes, the Shoremen rolled out an experienced and impressive first varsity eight this past fall, one which will surely keep them highly competitive during the spring sprint and championship season. Senior Zee Ali (Galloway, N.J./Absegami) has been a fixture in the Shoremen's top boat since his freshman season and rowed at the IRA National Championships in June. He is a former two-time All Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference (MARC) selection, nabbing varsity honors in 2015 and novice honors in 2013. Juniors Chris Eggstein (Haddonfield, N.J./Haddonfield Memorial) and Joe Stockburger (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum) have also both been in the top eight since their freshman seasons and both rowed at last year's IRA National Championships. Eggstein was the team's Most Improved Rower two seasons ago, while Stockburger was named to the All-MARC novice team that same spring. Also back in the first varsity eight after moving into the top boat last season was junior Samson Ramasamy (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown).
Sophomore Matt Dimond (Grosse Point Farms, Mich./Grosse Point South), an All-MARC novice selection last spring, and senior Daniel Benton (Dover, Pa./Dover), last year's team's Most Improved Rower, moved up from the second varsity eight to the top boat this past fall. Senior Theo Aris (Redding, Conn./Joel Barlow), who last rowed in an eight two years ago, also moved into the first varsity eight this fall. Rounding out the rowers in that top boat in the fall was junior transfer Evan Laking (Church Hill, Md./Broadneck).
A pair of sophomore coxswains, Alex Kincaid (Bowie, Md./DeMatha) and Jacob Yallof (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown), split time between the Shoremen's top two eights this fall. Kincaid was the coxswain of the Shoremen's second varsity eight last spring and also coxed at the IRA National Championships. Yallof spent last spring coxing the third varsity eights and novice boats.
Sophomore Nate Bonsib (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Sutherland) returned to the second varsity eight, where he rowed last spring, this fall. Other returners who joined him in that boat in the fall were sophomore Tyler Buchanan (Perryville, Calif./West Ranch), junior Tom Heffernan (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall), and junior Brandon Toth (Catonsville, Md./Mount St. Joseph).
Four novice freshmen - Andrew Castillo (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope), Ryan Ferencz (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany), Dre Harville (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic), and Philip Whitehouse (North Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) saw at least some time in the Shoremen's second eight this past fall. The Shoremen's other novice rowers include sophomores Karl Melchior (Whippany, N.J./Whippany Park) and Erik Whitcomb (Lynn, Mass./St. Mary's) and freshmen Mamadou Barry (Decatur, Ga./Columbia), Ben Kuhn (Port Deposit, Md./Perryville), Xaeza Olt (Dayton, Ohio/Dayton Regional STEM School), Matt Underwood (Claymont, Del./Salesianum), and Brook Yimer (Arlington, Va./Wakefield). Freshman Megan Klink (Chesapeake Beach, Md./Northern) is the Shoremen's novice coxswain.
The Shoremen's string of three consecutive MARC Championships came to an end last spring as the championship regatta trophy was opened up to all participating teams, including non-MARC member schools. Bucknell captured the title, but the Shoremen were second, with by far the top performance among any of the MARC teams. The Shoremen will be looking to recapture that title under the guidance of Connell, a veteran rowing coach on the collegiate, high school, and international levels who spent nine years helming the men's and women's programs at Division I La Salle.
This spring's regatta schedule includes trips to the Murphy Cup, Knecht Cup, and Kerr Cup, as well as a home regatta against La Salle and St. Mary's (Md.). The Shoremen will compete at the MARC Championships on April 29th and the National Invitational Rowing Championships on May 12th. The Murphy Cup, to be held March 25th in Philadelphia, will be their first regatta of the spring.