Crew teams finish out strong spring seasons
Published: Monday, May 17, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 00:05
Despite the 40 mph gusts of wind and white caps on the Schuylkill River, the men's and women's crew teams closed out their seasons at the Dad Vail Regatta in a combined second place finish behind St. Joseph's University.
After a series of heats that spanned the course of two days outside Philadelphia, the men's club team captured the men's overall points title for the third consecutive year, fulfilling a goal the team kept in mind when composing the varsity eight heavyweight with six lightweight rowers, said head coach Chuck Crawford.
He said that the team's depth and skill in the lightweight program allowed for the possibility of making a heavyweight boat faster by adding lightweight rowers.
"Our lightweights are really the crème de la crème of American rowing," Crawford said.
Although undefeated in each heat up until finals, the varsity heavyweight eight took second place behind Brock University of Canada. The team consisted of coxswain Sam McDonald and rowers Colin Ethridge, Sean Rader, Derek Maier, Pat Kenny, Legare Smith, Justin Weiner, John Pichola and Bob Bigelow.
Lightweight coach Joe Federici said the wind played a factor in the crew's race.
"Good lightweight boats have the advantage of getting off the line fast because they are so small," he said. "These conditions negated the advantage that we had."
Junior Derek Maier, a member of the varsity eight heavyweight boat said the conditions played a crucial role in their second place finish.
"I would be willing to bet that in a flat water race, we would have beaten them in open water, because we had beaten them before," Maier said. "We worked so hard to get in that lane which turned out to be one of the worst lanes because the outside lanes happened to be more sheltered from the wind."
The men's varsity lightweight boat, the defending champion, came in second behind Mercyhurst College, a crew which raced as a heavyweight program all year, Crawford said. The Hens' crew was made up of six freshmen and two upperclassmen.
The novice eight, a crew consisting entirely of walk-ons, finished third.
The women advanced four boats to the semifinals for the first time in the seven years since Laura Slice became head coach.
"First of all, wow," Slice said. "Second, it was a great way to end our season. I was on cloud nine."
Three of the boats finished in the top 10, including the women's top performing novice eight team which consisted of coxswain Dianna Levin and rowers Julia Cagney, Alex Smart, Alyssa Hoffman, Ally Crossman, Bethany Callaway, Lindsey Morris, Holly Dodge and Maeve Garlick. The novice eight boat finished fifth overall while the Second varsity eight captured sixth and the varsity eight boat took second in the petite final for an overall eighth place finish.
For the approximately 90 crew teams in attendance, the weather proved to be one of the greatest challenges as the regatta was paused on account of wind Saturday afternoon.
Although the conditions were demanding, the Hens felt relieved that everyone was facing the same weather, Slice said.
"The girls told me that at times it felt like rowing through a brick wall," she said.
In order to stay focused, the team remembered the driving cold rain that dominated their first regatta in March. The idea was to remember if the crew could survive those conditions it could survive anything, Slice said.
Junior Kate Huber, a member of the second varsity eight boat, said that a lot of their mental toughness stemmed from the closeness of the team.
"You grow to love the boat you're in," Huber said. "It gives us a lot of strength to remember everyone is coming in to do the same thing you're doing."
As for next year, Maier said the only thing on the men's minds is a gold medal.
"We deserved that win, and to get so close and then have it taken away kills me and kills every guy that was in that boat," he said. "I think we're all really committed to winning that event next year."
Crawford also anticipates a fantastic season next year, especially with such strong sophomore and senior classes, he said.
As for the women, goals that have already been set are placing higher at the CAA regatta and to place in the top three at Dad Vail, Slice said.
"The team wants to be stronger and faster which makes it easier as a coach because they are already motivated towards these goals," she said.
Huber agreed with the coach's ambitions of next year's season.
"Dad Vail gave us high spirits to channel into next season," Huber said. "Now that we know what we had to do to get to this point we can push it further."