Drexel University’s men’s and women’s crew teams competed admirably at the 39th annual San Diego Crew Classic held on Mission Bay March 31 and April 1.
Both the men’s and women’s varsity eight boats placed fourth in their final heats, which is notable considering that new lineups were used for the first time in each varsity eight boat.
“I really like how both boats made improvements from the heat to the finals,” head crew coach Paul Savell said. “The men raced aggressively from the start, and the women had better control than in their heat.”
The women’s varsity eight — manned by coxswain Alex Paulin; stroke Elizabeth Bratton, Julia Jackson, Elizabeth Daugherty, Sierra Baca, Juliana DeMarici, Mallory Sykes and Mollie Cusack; and bow Alexa Antonioli — finished fifth in their preliminary heat with a time of 7:05.71. Duke University won that heat with a blazing time of 6:48.94.
“The women had a difficult time in the heat, placing fifth with their new lineup,” Savell said.
The women improved greatly on their time in the third finals, where they finished fourth with a time of 6:59.72. They were about 10 seconds behind the University of Miami Hurricanes, who took first place.
“The women settled into a better pace in the final and improved our overall time by six seconds,” Savell commented. “We made good adjustments but still have not found our top speed.”
The men’s varsity eight, also sporting a new look with coxswain Randall Lee; strokes Kurt Linton, Paul Wisniowski, Aleksandar Radovic, Lorenzo Albala, Sebastian Ryan, Vanja Busic and Michael Faust; and bow Will Masters, finished second in their preliminary heat, being edged out only by the University of Notre Dame. The Dragons, who finished with a time of 6:13.60, were less than three seconds behind the Fighting Irish.
“The men had a strong heat on Saturday to advance to the grand finals on Sunday,” Savell said.
In that grand final, the men had a tough draw in lane 5 in San Diego, where lanes 1 and 2 get more shelter from the wind. Even so, the men were able to get out of the gate very quickly.
“The guys came off the starting line ready to race and led for the first three quarters of the race before being overtaken for a fourth-place finish,” Savell said.
After slowing down from their hot start, the Dragons finished the race with a time of 6:37.86, which was about five seconds behind first-place Grand Valley State University.
“I am very confident we will continue to pick up speed over the next couple weeks leading into the final stretch,” Savell said of his boats.
The recent competition, which featured some of the best boats in the country, was a great test for the Dragons.
“The San Diego Crew Classic was a great opportunity to see the West Coast teams on a national platform,” Savell said. “There was an extremely competitive field at the race this year, and it was good to go test our speed against them.”
The Dragons now look to pick up some more speed as they push into the grand finals, including the all-important Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, later this season.
“As we go into the second half of the season, we need to ratchet up our focus and keep our eyes on the prize,” Savell said.
Both the men and the women are set to compete in the Bucknell Invitational April 7.