To cap a fantastic regular season, Drexel sent its women’s crew team to the Colonial Athletic Association Championships May 18 in hopes of another strong showing on the water. The women brought home a third-place finish, successfully medaling in each of the three races for the first time in program history.
Head coach Paul Savell and Drexel sent three boats to the regatta, competing in the varsity four, second varsity eight and varsity eight. The results for each of the three races were the same, with Drexel finishing third behind Northeastern University and the University of Buffalo.
“In CAA the women had a strong showing,” Savell said. “That’s the first time we medaled in all three events.”
The Sandra Lee Sheller boat claimed bronze in the varsity four. In both the second varsity eight and the varsity eight, the Maria Papadakis and the Marlene Buckley boats, respectively, finished narrowly behind Buffalo for third place.
In each of the two races, Drexel finished fewer than two seconds away from claiming the silver medal.
“We want to finish on the other end on those two races,” Savell said. “When it’s that close, you want to finish ahead.”
Though he was glad to walk away with three medals, Savell saw opportunities for the team to do better. In both of the tight races, the second varsity eight and the varsity eight, he saw opportunities for improvement and a blown chance to finish higher than third.
“I feel like both boats had good parts to their races that we were able to come away; we had nice sprints,” he admitted. “There were just sections of the race we could have done better.”
It capped a crucial final stretch of the season for the women, after winning the Kelly Cup and helping to bring home the overall points trophy at the Dad Vail Regatta. The success, according to Savell, was “unprecedented” and was part of a historic season for the p
“This was a banner year for the women,” Savell explained. “They just had an unbelievable year; I feel they really stepped up.”
Savell sensed it could be a special year and that his team was capable of great things when they were coming down the stretch of the city championships. The way the team dominated those races, winning five of 10 events, really showed the seven-year head coach something.
“I always feel we start to hit our stride and gain our speed at the city championships,” Savell explained. “When we were able to really dominate in that race, I really felt we had something good going.”
Despite the high expectations, he still was very impressed that the anticipated results followed. It meant everything came together for the team.
“To do what they did meant everything worked for us,” he said.
Another reason the season is extra special and had everything working in it is the fact that it is not over yet. On the rowing world’s map, the program received an invitation to participate in the Henley Women’s Regatta in England June 20-22.
The team, bringing two boats with them, will depart for Henley-on-Thames June 14, which is when they will find out their competition for each event. Until then, Savell is reserving expectations until the field settles.
“We’ll see. We don’t know our competition yet,” Savell said. “Who knows what’s going to happen?”