Bates College senior Olivia Stockly had a team national championship already etched into her collegiate rowing career memories, but there was still one thing she wanted to accomplish before leaving school - besides defending the title Bates won last year, that is.
She wanted to win a gold medal in the women's eight. Stockly completed that dream Saturday morning.
Just after the Bates second varsity eight won their grand final at the 2018 NCAA National Championships in Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida, Stockly helped lead the varsity eight to that gold medal they missed out on last season when the first varsity eight finished second.
"It feels pretty darn good," Stockly said just after getting off the water. "Yeah, pretty darn good. I’m a senior, so it’s been four years coming. I think we’ve all just been looking to break this curse of not having this one end goal.
"We were excited for our boat, and then even more excited when we found out the 2V won. So we couldn't be more ecstatic and proud of what we've done today. The first varsity eight got second last year, and the second eight got first place. But this time we both won."
Second varsity eight coxswaon Hanna De Bruyn get a lift
For Bates senior coxswain Hanna De Bruyn, Saturday was also a reward for her personal patience and determination. De Bruyn was a spare at the 2017 championship, and was a fixture in the second varsity eight this season.
"It was just an incredible race," she said of her boat's performance. "It was just a blast to have this happen in my last year in the 2V. The national championship feels great, but to actually be the one driving the boat was an awesome experience and one I had always wished for. Now, we celebrate at tomorrow's graduation."
The 2018 Division III title was not just a win for the program, but the completion of a year-long quest to defend their 2017 title and the season of dominance they had laid down this spring.
"I don’t know really know what to say," said head coach Peter Steenstra. "It's great to win this because the field is much, much faster. The Division III field is quick. It was some great racing and it’s a great end for the year, and for these women.
"It’s funny how everyone expects something to happen, and they don’t realize how much goes into that final couple weeks," he said. "There’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of concern, and a lot of work.
"They did such a phenomenal job executing their race plans and not being rattled by the competition that we knew was going to be out there," Steenstra said. "I'm just happy for them to end their collegiate career in this way, especially for all the seniors. It brings tears to my eyes, just because I’m proud of them."