The Drexel University men’s crew team ended their 2019 season at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships in Sacramento May 31 to June 2. After the varsity eight had remained in the nation’s top 25 throughout the season, the Dragons received an at-large bid to compete. The Dragons brought four boats to the competition on Lake Natoma: the varsity eight, second varsity eight, third varsity eight and varsity four.
The varsity eight was the first Drexel boat to race May 31 in the heats. The Dragons raced right next to Colgate University, who had bested the Dragons by just 0.3 seconds at the Dad Vail Regatta May 11. This was Colgate’s first appearance at the IRA championships. The Dragons had a good start and stayed with the rest of the boats for the first half of the race, but Colgate made their move in the third 500 meters of the race. The Dragons came in last place out of six in the heats, which moved them into the repechage that afternoon.
In the repechage, the varsity eight raced Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. The Dragons found themselves down on the rest of the crews after the first 500 meters. Dartmouth led from start to finish, and they earned a spot in the semifinals to compete for spots in the grand final (who raced for places one to six in the nation) and petite final (racing for places seven to 12.) The Dragons earned a spot in the semifinals to compete for the third level final (racing for places 13 to 18) and fourth level final (for places 19 to 24.)
All of the semifinals took place June 1, and all of the finals June 2. The varsity eight placed fourth in the semifinal race which moved them into the fourth level final. In the final, the Dragons started off strong with their bow ahead of every crew except the Florida Institute of Technology. The Dragons fell behind the pack by the 1000-meter mark, but came back with a fast second half of the race to place third in the final and 21st overall in the nation. After coming into the race seeded 21st, the varsity eight lived up to this and ended their season still in the top 25.
The second varsity eight competed in the first heat for their event. Their heat was stacked with the University of Washington, Boston University, Northeastern University and the University of Wisconsin. The Dragons had a bit of a slow start compared to the rest of the crews and finished fifth in the heat about 18 seconds back from Wisconsin in fourth. The second varsity eight also raced in the repechage against crews from the United States Naval Academy, Columbia and the University of California San Diego. They came in fourth, which moved them into the fourth level final for the event. In the final, the Dragons were neck-and-neck with UCSD off the start, but came in second to earn an overall ranking of 20th in the nation.
The third varsity eight competed in the second heat for their event against Yale University, BU, Navy and Oregon State University. They came in fourth and had to race in the repechages. In the rep, Drexel raced Syracuse University, Dartmouth, Cornell University, UCSD and Stanford University. They came in fourth, placing them in the third level final for the event. They were racing George Washington University inch-by-inch down the course, but GW bested the Dragons for third place in the final. The Drexel third varsity eight ended in 16th place overall.
The varsity four raced in the fourth heat against Princeton University, BU and Marist College. The Dragons also raced in the repechage before moving into the third level final. In the final, they raced Oklahoma City University, Jacksonville University, Wisconsin, Brown University and Northeastern. The Dragons unfortunately came in last and were 18th overall.
Overall, the Dragons had a good showing at the IRA championships. The team will graduate eight seniors this year: Greg Adams, Justin Best, Doug Davis, Nick DiVito, Ben Lee, Dimitrije Regodic, Bryce Rosicky and Dario Vracevic. Davis, Best, Rosicky and Lee will be leaving the varsity eight behind, Vracevic and Regodic will leave the second varsity eight and DiVito will depart from the varsity four (Adams did not compete.)
Though the results of the IRA championships may not have been what the team hoped for or how the seniors wanted to end their four-year journey at Drexel, however, they had an overall great season. The varsity eight came in second of 35 in the men’s collegiate eight event at the Head of the Charles Regatta last October and won the Murphy Cup title. The team also won the overall men’s points trophy at the Dad Vail Regatta, which they had not done since 2015. This was their eighth straight bid to the IRA championships this year, which speaks to the great impact these seniors made during their four years.
The Dragons will now be off for the summer but will start preseason training again in the Fall for the 2019-20 season.