Beads of sweat dripping down the coxswain’s face, oars splashing violently in and out of the water, boats neck-and-neck in a sprint for the finish line — and in the end one team prevails: the Dragons.
The Drexel men’s and women’s crew teams stroked their way to a victorious season opener on the Navesink River in Rumson, N.J. Sept. 24. The Dragons took home a total of three first place medals and defeated Army, Rutgers and Villanova in the process.
Even with a successful start, Paul Savell, the Director of rowing, says his team needs to acknowledge the win, and then focus on the future.
“It is nice, but it’s too early in the season to focus on,” Savell said. “We have the Head of the Charles Regatta and Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in our sights for the fall and, of course, our training is always focused on the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta held in May.”
Last year, the crew team sent five boats to the finals at the Dad Vail. This was a record-tying accomplishment. And to top it off, the men took home gold and silver medals. Needless to say, coming off of two huge back-to-back years for the program, the team has put forth a lot of time and energy into making this year a success.
“Many of our athletes cross train during the summer which is great for variety and injury prevention,” Savell said. “Early in the fall season, we try to get in as many miles as we can, in order to get everyone into rowing shape and capable of serous training for a two hour period.“
It appears as though their training has paid off thus far. The women’s and men’s varsity eights, as well as the women’s second varsity eight finished the Rumson Boat Race in first place.
The women’s varsity eight, who occupied the Marlene Buckley boat, consisted of Alex Paulin, Julia Jackson, Colleen Delaney, Juliana DeMarici, Megan Bush , Kayla Wroblesky , Emily Coyle, Elizabeth Bratton and Asiya Mahmud. The boat finished with a time of 6:22.7, beating Army’s time of 6:26:9 and a Villanova boat that finished with 6:35:3.
The men’s varsity eight followed the women’s lead, and swept the competition with a time of 5:33:97. Their boat, the Vince Vidas boat, consisted of Randall Lee, Kurt Linton, Vanja Busic, Michael Faust, Lorenzo Albala, Aleksandar Randovic, Matthew Ryan, Sebastian Ryan and Patrick McGann. Their competitors, Army, Rutgers and Villanova, finished four seconds or more behind the Dragons.
Finally, the last of the winning boats was the women’s second varsity eight in the John A. Daskalakis boat. The ladies were Caitlin Meehan, Amanda O’Malley, Elizabeth Daugherty, Mollie Cusack, Samantha Cowan, Jackie Bender, Alyssa Leahy, Jillian Skovran and Kathy Cheng. The boat defeated Villanova by a dominating 15 seconds.
A lot of the credit for the team’s early success goes to the oarsmen’s hard work and to strong leadership.
“We have some exceptional leaders this year,” Savell said. “Our men’s captains are Randall Lee, Kurt Linton and Brian Timlin. Our captains for the women’s team are Julia Jackson, Alex Paulin and Liz Bratton. Even with a talented team, the captains have the challenge of keeping everyone one the same page and focused on the same goals. They help build the cohesiveness and trust among the team.”
With the captains’ leadership, this is one of the strongest Drexel teams to date. With a mix of returning players and novice additions, the crew is ready to make this the best season.
“Last spring season was successful, but everyone wants more,” Savell said. “This team is aware of what they are capable of this year and that has brought a sense of excitement and anticipation to the start of training.”
Let’s hope that excitement translates into wins for the remainder of the season. The next regatta that the crew team needs to prepare for is the Navy Day Regatta Oct. 8 on the Schuylkill.
As Savell says, “[The crew] will face some of the fastest teams in the region. This will be [their] first major test to see where [they] measure up.”
This is a test that the Dragons have studied hard for, and will no doubt, ace.