The Drexel crew teams had another successful weekend on the Schuylkill River, as the men’s and women’s teams won the Bergen Cup and Kelly Cup, respectively, April 27.
It marked the second straight season that the Dragons won both regattas, which pit Philadelphia programs against each other. Joining Drexel on the river were La Salle University, Villanova University, Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia University and Temple University.
The men’s varsity eight, second varsity eight, freshman eight and varsity four boats all finished in first place. The varsity eight’s impressive time of 5:51.3, more than 13 seconds better than runner-up Temple, easily won the Bergen Cup gold.
The freshman four, lightweight four and pair all took second place. The lightweight four came just a second away from capturing the men’s fifth first-place finish.
Head coach Paul Savell was very pleased with the men’s team’s performance as a whole and was especially thrilled to see them become city champions once again. It marked a three-peat, as the Dragons have now won the Bergen Cup each year since 2011.
He would have even more reason to be happy after the women won four more races themselves. The headlining race was the varsity eight defending their Kelly Cup title, finishing five seconds ahead of Temple with a time of 6:36.6. It is the fourth time in five seasons that the Drexel women have won the all-Philadelphia regatta.
Also victorious on the women’s side were the second varsity eight, varsity four and pair.
Before the race, Savell identified it as a big one for the women. Assistant coach Denise Julian echoed those expectations and was pleased with the team meeting them. According to her, the Dragons executed the game plan perfectly.
“The women eight focused over the past two weeks on retaining the Kelly Cup and executing a specific race plan,” Julian said. ”We are very pleased with how the whole women’s team performed this weekend.”
All Drexel boats finished in either first or second place in their respective events, and eight of the 12 boats won first place.
Although the team has been very successful recently with this particular regatta, Savell said the pride level remains the same. He also pointed out that each year the team is different in some way, and because of that, there is always a new sense of thrill and joy in winning.
“Each year is unique because we have new leadership and new competition as every team [graduates] their seniors,” Savell said. “So each year we have the same focus: to win back the cups and take pride in our accomplishments.”
He did point out that the continued success is a reflection of the improved program. Not only is it growing, but the members of the two teams have also consistently been able to translate their training into success and victories.
“The depth of the whole rowing program is growing each year,” Savell said. “With both teams winning as well as all boats getting either first or second, we can see how our training is translating into boat speed.”
The weekend also showed Savell that his team is steadily getting set for the legendary Dad Vail Regatta, which will take place May 10-11. The 75th annual event will be the third straight regatta the Dragons will host on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River.
“This past weekend has helped show how our work has paid off and given confidence going into Dad Vails,” Savell said.
In the past three years, Drexel has sent five boats to the grand finals of the prestigious regatta. However, the team has ultimately come up short against some of the best competition it faces all year. The University of Michigan has won the past two years, which is something Savell and the Dragons will look to change. He likes the way the teams are arching upward and thinks the teams have built a great deal of momentum leading up to the regatta.
“Both the men’s and women’s teams have built speed nicely over the past two months and have been preparing to have top speed by Dad Vails,” he said.
For more information about the Dad Vail Regatta, visit dadvail.org.