The Drexel University men’s and women’s crew teams took part in their second competition of the fall season Oct. 13 on the Schuylkill River at the Navy Day Regatta, a 2.5-mile head race event that attracts more than 2,000 athletes to compete in over 50 races throughout the day. In rowing, a head race is a time-trial event in which competing boats do not start simultaneously but instead are staggered onto the course in roughly 15-second intervals. Drexel faced strong competition at the regatta, including the University of Pennsylvania, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Military Academy, Saint Joseph’s University and Temple University, among many others.
Drexel competed in four men’s and four women’s races on the day and finished in the top five in all of them. The men’s novice eight kicked off the day with a fourth-place finish with a time of 13:55.28. Two Penn boats took first and second in the event, and Navy finished in third. Senior Kurt Linton was impressed with the novice boat in its first race of the year:
“Overall, the team performed well at Navy Day. The freshmen continued to show that they are going to be fast and competitive as they have been in the past several years as well.”
The men’s novice team consisted of coxswain Christopher Henderson, stroke Mikulas Sum, Michael DiLucca, Daniel Palombo, Daniel Dollin, Paul Bellefleur, Nicholas Capaldi, Lawrence Lindawan and bow Daniel Pyle.
The women’s novice eight were up next for the Dragons, taking to the river for their first race of the year. The novice boat competed well and finished second out of seven teams in 15:40.85, 12 seconds behind Penn at 15:28.58 and ahead of others such as Navy, West Point and The College of New Jersey. Coxswain Rachel Bowen, stroke Rose Erhlich, Julie McGlynn, Taylor Brady, Rebecca McCool, Megan Raver, Kate Wilchek, Jordan Marinchak and bow Allie Schachter paced the Dragons to their runner-up finish.
The next events for the day were the men’s and women’s second varsity eights, with Drexel fielding two boats in each. The men’s second varsity eight ‘A’ squad was first out of the chute for Drexel and finished strong in 13:26.16, which would be good for a solid second-place behind Navy’s ‘A’ boat at 13:05.11. The Dragons’ second varsity ‘B’ boat was released from the chute about 90 seconds later, eventually clocking in at 13:40.10 for fifth place. Navy’s ‘B’ and ‘C’ boats were sandwiched between the Drexel boats in third and fourth places, respectively. Linton was happy with the performances by both second varsity squads, saying, “2V A and B both had strong finishes, and it’s good to see the depth of the team continuing to improve.”
The men’s second varsity ‘A’ boat included coxswain Victoria Kenion, stroke John Pieper, Cameron Staines, James Byrne, Jake Murphy, Ryan McSpedon, Milos Rujevic, Grigorios Papadourakis and bow Christian Ladd. Coxswain Diana Fox, stroke Dean Hill, Brian McCabe, Timothy Drake, Troy Beck, David Gockley, Brian Kissam, Andrew Weinstein and bow Matt Gehret comprised the second varsity men’s ‘B’ boat.
The women’s second varsity eights followed the men’s, and like the men, the Drexel women competed at a high level. The second varsity eight ‘A’ boat showcased its speed and strength with a time of 15:04.44, which was Drexel’s best women’s time of the day and earned them second place behind Navy at 14:53.19 and ahead of Penn at 15:18.07. The second varsity eight ‘B’ boat posted the fourth-fastest time of the event with 15:31.13.
Coxswain Catherine Hamilton, stroke Tori King, Emily Gartland, Kayla Wroblesky, Elizabeth Daugherty, Amanda Kleuser, Alyssa Leahy, Jayme Batcher and bow Jackie Bender all contributed to the second varsity ‘A’ boat’s impressive performance. The second varsity ‘B’ boat was powered and controlled by coxswain Sarah Messenger, stroke Sierra Baca, Alexa Antonioli, Amanda Dargay, Elise Panacek, Kathy Cheng, Bridget Pfeifer, Barbara McKenna and bow Elise Levito.
In Drexel’s final two races of Navy Day, the men’s and women’s varsity boats took to the water. The men were up first and finished in a respectable fourth place with a time of 13:20.73, Drexel’s fastest overall time of the day. Navy’s varsity eight ‘A’ and ‘B’ boats took first and third places with times of 12:48.37 and 13:13.61, respectively, and Penn placed second in 12:50.61. Despite the tough competition, Linton said, “Our place was not as strong as we would like to see, but at this point in our season we just look at it as another building block to the eventual goal of winning the biggest medal races in the spring like Dad Vails.” The men’s varsity eight team consisted of coxswain Marc Smith, stroke Aleksandar Radovic, Lorenzo Albala, Sebastian Ryan, Vanja Busic, Michael Faust, Ryan Mallgrave, Kurt Linton and bow Hartman Byers.
The varsity women’s eight capped off the regatta for Drexel with a third-place finish in 15:13.11, behind first-place Navy in 14:50.36 and second-place Penn in 14:59.97. After the races concluded, senior captain Mollie Cusack commented on her team’s progress at this point in the season:
“As a team, our physical fitness is better than it has ever been this early on in the season.”
Coxswain Kerry Walsh, stroke Julia Jackson, Elizabeth Campanella, Olivia Babiec, Samantha Cowan, Amanda O’Malley, Mallory Sykes, Cusack and bow Colleen Delaney made up the women’s varsity eight boat.
On the whole, the Navy Day Regatta was a successful one for the Drexel men and women. As head coach Paul Savell noted, “Across the board, our boats finished in the top five places. Only Navy and Penn had boats ahead of us. Now, we have some work ahead of us to track them down.”
The fall season as a whole is part of the progression toward achieving peak shape in the spring. By competing with strong programs like Navy and Penn, the rowers gain valuable experience in competing with strong opposition, which is valuable in highly competitive regattas in the future.
Drexel’s next competition is such a regatta. The Dragons will travel to Boston for the Head of the Charles Regatta to face off against world-class rowers Oct. 21. According to Cusack, “The Head of the Charles Regatta is by far the most prestigious regatta of the fall season.” First held in 1965 as a one-day event, the Head of the Charles is now the largest two-day rowing event in the world, attracting over 9,000 athletes and 300,000 spectators each year. The race itself is a 3.2 mile head race that takes place on the Charles River, which runs between Boston and Cambridge, Mass. As the Dragons head into this highly anticipated competition, Savell said that their “first objective is to have a good, clean race and place in the top half of the field that will guarantee a spot for next year. Both the men and women want to move up from their places last year.” The men and women placed 13th and 31st, respectively, in the collegiate division in 2011.