After success at the Kerr Cup Regatta April 20, the Drexel University men’s and women’s rowing teams were scheduled to compete at the Bergen and Kelly Cup Regattas April 27, but due to weather conditions, the races were cancelled.
Next up for the women’s team was Eastern Sprints, an annual regatta held in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Lake Quinsigamond May 5. Some of the top teams in the Eastern region of the United States come to compete at the Sprints including Columbia University, Northeastern University (a fellow Colonial Athletic Association rival,) Rutgers University, Harvard University (Radcliffe,) Dartmouth College, Boston University, the University of Rhode Island and Temple University.
To compete in four events, the Drexel Dragons brought four boats: the varsity eight, second varsity eight, third varsity eight and varsity four. The only boat to go to the grand final was the varsity eight, and this was the first time in program history that the varsity eight had qualified for the grand final.
The third varsity eight raced Harvard-Radcliffe, Northeastern and Temple in their heat on the morning of the races. The Dragons placed fourth about 20 seconds behind Harvard-Radcliffe. They competed in the petite final that afternoon against one other crew, Boston College, and defeated BC, which put them in seventh place overall of eight crews in the event.
The varsity eight competed in their heat following the third varsity eight. They raced Dartmouth, URI and Temple. After previously defeating Temple at Kerr Cup by seven seconds, the Dragons knew their biggest competition was going to be URI and Dartmouth who were seeded above them. The Dragons had a phenomenal race to start the day defeating both URI and Dartmouth to stun the crowds and upset the higher seeds. The Dragons were a couple seats behind the two crews at the beginning of the race, and Temple was a couple seats behind the Dragons. A big push in the second 500 meters gave Drexel the lead. URI tried to make a push into the Dragons’ lead towards the end of the race, but Drexel held on to win the heat posting the second fastest time of the day. This qualified the Dragons for the grand finals that afternoon.
In the grand finals, the Dragons raced Rutgers, Harvard-Radcliffe, Columbia, URI and Northeastern. This was the first time this season that the Dragons had raced against Northeastern, and this was a great opportunity to see how they matched up before the CAA championships. The teams were all pretty close at the beginning of the race. Rutgers and Harvard-Radcliffe had easily won their heats by open water in the morning but Harvard-Radcliffe gave Rutgers a little bit of a challenge in the grand final.
The Dragons stayed with the group of boats racing. Rutgers won with a time of 6:31.422 while the Dragons were in fifth behind URI with a time of 6:47.032. The Dragons beat Northeastern by over seven seconds, which puts them in great position for the CAA championships.
The second varsity eight had a tough morning in the heat against Harvard-Radcliffe, Temple, BU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Dragons came in fourth in the heat which moved them into the petite final for the afternoon. It was a tight race between third through fifth place teams for the petite final in this event as they were only separated by about one second. BC finished third in the petite final with a time of 6:57.407, which was behind URI and Columbia. The Dragons finished with a time of 6:58.279 and BU was just behind them with a time of 6:58.503. The Dragons placed 10th overall out of 14 teams in the second varsity eight event.
The varsity four placed third in their heat behind Dartmouth and Temple but they missed out on the grand finals and instead competed in the petite final. They competed against BC, URI, BU, Northeastern, the University of Connecticut and the College of Holy Cross. UConn and Holy Cross dropped off from the other boats after the start of the race. The varsity four for the Dragons finished a fantastic season last year as they were the only boat to defeat Northeastern and claim a gold medal at the CAA championships. They showed this strength again as they defeated Northeastern at this competition by almost six seconds. Overall, the varsity four placed ninth of 13 teams in the whole event.
For their efforts, the women’s varsity eight received the CAA Boat of the Week honor for the third time this season.
The next race for the Dragons is arguably one of the most anticipated races of the season, the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill River May 10 and 11. As a whole team, including the men’s team, the Dragons have won the overall team points trophy for the past six years in a row. The women’s team is the two-time defending champion of the women’s team points trophy. The women’s second varsity eight has also won the gold medal two years in a row.
The Dad Vail Regatta is the largest collegiate regatta in the country. The champions will be crowned May 11 and the points will be tallied for all teams after the completion of the races. The Dragons are going for a seven-peat for the team points trophy, so head down to catch all the action this weekend. The women’s varsity eight will be competing against 22 other crews, while the men’s varsity eight will compete against 27 other crews. For more information on the regatta, you can visit https://www.dadvail.org/.