INDIANAPOLIS -- Despite pouring rain, both Williams' crew boats won their respective heats this morning and advanced to Saturday's grand finals, giving the Ephs a shot at their eighth consecutive NCAA Division III Rowing Championship.

The weather caused the NCAA to move up the race times, then delay the new race times by nearly an hour. Even with the delay this morning, both boats raced in torrential downpours.

"I thought both boats did an admirable job rolling with the delays, the weather and going out and getting done what needed to be done," Williams coach Kate Maloney said.

The weather at Eagle Creek Park was anything but calm this morning when the Varsity 8 boats took to the water, but the Ephs still managed to win the first heat by more than seven seconds with conference rival Trinity placing second.

The Ephs' line-up of the Varsity 8 boat with Anna Hopkins as the coxswain, Dana Golden in the stroke seat, Anne Haley, Piper Sallquist, Emma Laukitis, Stephanie Neul, Andrea Remec, Margaret Steer in seats seven through two and Katie Westervelt in the bow, crossed the finish line in 7:16.584, 7.356 seconds ahead of the Bantams and 14 seconds ahead of Wellesley.

"It wasn't flat, there was definitely a head wind, but the conditions this morning were actually better than what we had been practicing in out here," Maloney said. "The difficult part was it was raining so hard it was hard to hear the coxswain."

The second Varsity 8 boat -- with Joowon Choi as the coxswain, Anne Tewksbury at stroke, with Katie Constantini, Tala Abujbara, Sophia Jannetty, Jenna Maddock, Andrea Dunchus, Julia May in seats seven through two and Katherine Amano in the bow -- was even faster, winning its heat in 7:07.978, nearly 13 full seconds ahead of William Smith, which finished second.

"We're used to practicing in rain and wind, and the wind was actually pretty calm this morning," Maloney said. "I think [these peformances] just speak to how everyone is focused on doing the job we came out here to do, and we'll do it in whatever weather we have to."