It’s never wise to take things for granted in sports. When you least expect it, you can get knocked down and humbled.
“They don’t just hand you the trophy because you won the last year,” Paul Savell, head crew coach at Drexel University, said.
Even if the Drexel crew team did win the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta last year, however, the Dragons once again were handed the trophy this year, as they dominated on the Schuylkill River to a three-peat, taking their third consecutive title as overall winners May 8-9.
Of the 13 boats that Drexel sent to the regatta, 12 advanced to semi-final heats among some of the nation’s most elite rowing competitors, with six boats taking top-three finishes.
“We’ve been talking about focusing on winning the team title the entire year since the fall season began in September. Going in, we knew we needed every member of the team to contribute at a high level if we wanted to win,” Savell said.
And the Dragons did just that — again.
Drexel grabbed wins and medaled across the board, raking in points to give themselves a total of 42, triumphing over the University of Delaware and Bucknell University, who scored 34 and 33 points, respectively.
However, the biggest pull for points came from the men’s side, which won its portion of the races to earn the team 30 points, topping Delaware and University of Virginia. Five of the six medaling boats were men’s boats.
The two Dragon gold medals came from the men’s freshmen eight and the men’s second varsity eight boats. The men’s second varsity eight pulled past Philadelphia rival Temple University by eight-tenths of a second to snare the victory.
Another win for the men’s side came from the men’s varsity four, which grabbed the silver medal. The boat’s second-place finish was just two-tenths of a second slower than first place finisher, Brock University.
The Dragons received points from three third place finishes as well. The boats grabbing bronze medals were the women’s varsity eight, the men’s varsity eight and the men’s freshmen four.
“All the coaches were very happy with the level each boat performed at,” Savell continued.
“We faced some very strong competition at Dad Vails, but we were able to pull through in the end.”
In addition to the team’s success, Savell himself was also a winner. On May 8 he received the Dad Vail Coach of the Year, the Matt Ledwdith award, which goes to a successful rowing coach with commitment to the Dad Vail Regatta.
Overall, though, Savell was just impressed with the team’s success on the whole.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team that we were able to three-peat at Dad Vails,” he said.
“We had a totally unique team that had to find their own way to win. This is something we’re going to need to remember going into next year as well. No matter how many times in a row you’ve won, you still have to earn the next one.”
The next time the men will race is May 29-30, at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships.
Next up, the female Dragons will be preparing for Colonial Athletic Association finals May 17.
Last year, the women took third place. This year, they’ll be aiming to move up to second, ahead of fierce competitor University at Buffalo, who took the overall silver medal last year.
The CAA Championships will be held at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, New Jersey. Final races will begin at 10 a.m.