In Philadelphia, racing on the Schuylkill River is a long standing tradition for crew. It’s held a number of regattas, like the Navy Day Regatta and the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in the fall. But, the most anticipated race on the Schuylkill in the spring season is always the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta. What also seems to be tradition, in recent history, at least, is Drexel University grabbing the win at this last race.
In the most anticipated weekend of the crew season, the Drexel University men’s crew team set a school record May 13, and Drexel finished with their fourth consecutive overall team championship at the Dad Vail Regatta May 14. The women’s team had an even busier weekend, as they not only competed in the Dad Vail Regatta, but also travelled to Mercer Lake in West Windsor, New Jersey to take part in the Colonial Athletic Championships in hopes of gaining a spot in the NCAA Championships.
Despite dreary weather conditions, May 13 was still a bright day for Drexel Crew as every single one of their boats advanced to Day Two of the Dad Vail Regatta. They entered 14 boats in the competition and had 14 boats competing Saturday, the most ever in Drexel history.
The action started Friday with both the men’s and women’s varsity eights finishing first in their heats. The women’s team raced the Cara Fry boat to a winning time of 6:57.835, advancing to the semifinal at 7:24 a.m. May 14. The men’s team raced the Sandra Lee Sheller II boat to a winning time of 6:01.666, giving them a spot in the semifinal at 7 a.m. Saturday morning.
Both the men’s and women’s second varsity eights had strong showings Friday with first and second place finishes respectively in their heats. The men raced the Lois Krall boat and finished with a first place time of 6:21.869, while the women raced the Marlene Buckley II boat to a second place time of 7:10.857, good enough to advance them straight to the finals at 12:22 p.m. on Saturday.
All freshmen boats had a convincing performance on Friday with the men’s freshmen eight taking first in their heat while the women’s freshmen eight and men’s freshmen four both took second in their respective heats. The men’s freshmen eight raced the Joseph Greipp boat, winning with a time of 6:30.201. The women’s freshmen eight rowed the Maria Papadakis boat, finishing with a time of 7:38.592, only losing out to Grand Valley. The men’s freshmen four raced the Oxholm boat to a time of 7:12.058, losing out to the United States Military Academy by about a second and a half.
The varsity pairs and fours rowed in time trials Friday, unlike the other boats that competed in heats. The men’s pair, in the Toby Wallace boat, finished in sixth with a time of 6:45.369 while the women’s pair raced to a time of 7:47.170, the 13th best of the day, but good enough to advance them to Saturday’s semifinal. The men’s varsity four finished sixth with a time of 6:08.79 and the women’s varsity four finished with the second-best time, a 6:51.620.
Both Drexel men’s and women’s single boats were part of the field Friday, with Samantha Dorman taking second with a time of 9:17.194 and Ryan Gasparini winning with a time of 8:01.321. The men’s third varsity eight did not participate Friday as their first race began Saturday morning at 9:18 a.m. in the Annette Pennoni boat.
In a condensed Saturday due to the expected bad weather, Drexel Crew set a school record by sending 11 boats to grand finals and earning top-five finishes in all 11 of them. They won two gold medals thanks to the men’s second varsity eight and men’s freshmen eight. Along with the two gold medals, they also raked in five silver medals thanks to the men’s and women’s varsity eight, women’s second varsity eight, women’s varsity four, and men’s third varsity eight.
The varsity eights both had strong showings in their grand finals, with the men falling by only three seconds to gold medalists Florida Institute of Technology. The men finished with a time of 5:58.419 in the Sandra Lee Sheller II boat. The women’s team rowed the Cara Fry boat to a second place time of 6:59.524, losing to the University of Maryland by around five seconds. The men’s second varsity eight, racing the Lois Krall boat, was a nail biter as they narrowly defeated Florida Tech by 0.65 seconds to take home their third consecutive Dad Vail gold. The women’s second varsity eight had a battle on their hands as they came back in the final 200 meters of the race to pass Fordham University for second place, finishing just 0.32 seconds in front of the Rams.
The other gold medalists of the day were the men’s freshmen eight, who raced the Joseph Greipp boat and finished with a time of 6:45.411 to take home the gold for their second year in a row. The women’s varsity four took second in the Sandra Lee Sheller boat with a time of 8:05.199 for a silver medal.
The non-medalists also had strong showings that day with fourth place finishes for the men’s varsity four, women’s freshmen eight, and women’s single. The last competitor in a grand final was the men’s pair, who finished in fifth.
The men’s varsity four raced the Lebow College of Business boat to a time of 7:13.384. The women’s freshmen eight raced the Maria Papadakis boat, finishing with a time of 7:51.499. Samantha Dorman, the women’s single rower, crossed the finish line with a time of 10:11.661. Lastly, the men’s pair ended their day with a time of 8:26.379 in the Toby Wallace boat.
In addition to the Dad Vails, the women’s crew team capped off an exciting weekend by finishing in second place Sunday morning at the CAA Championships. Awards were handed out to four members of the team. Emily Gartland, Sarah Messenger and Kendall Wenzke were all named to the All-CAA Team, while Paige Propp was named to the CAA All-Academic Team. All four are rowers on the varsity eight.