GVSU Laker Navy Strikes Gold in Philadelphia
Posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2009 at 8:58 pm

The 71st Dad Vail Regatta kicked off to a flurry with windy and rainy conditions. Because of this the regatta shifted all Friday racing to a 1500 meter time trial. This time trial seeded crews based on their finish for the semi-finals and finals on Saturday, May 9th. The Laker Navy came off to a fast start and was able to qualify seven out of eight boats for the Saturday competition.

The semi-final racing on Saturday was highlighted by tremendous performances performed by both men’s and women’s varsity eights. For the men, the race was won in that start and controlled through the bridge and island. The semi placed GVSU at a time of 5:38.6 over Purdue at 5:40.2, Jacksonville at 5:41.8, and 2009 SIRA Champion FIT at 5:42.9.

The morning racing saw the Lakers win two other semi-finals as well.  The women’s first varsity eight won the D1 semi in a time of 6:23.0 ahead of St. Joseph’s 6:30.2. The women’s second varsity eight also raced up a division and won the varsity semi for the DII/DIII Club race in a time of 6:51.8 over Seattle-Pacific in a time of 6:54.6.

Early semi-finals also saw the Lakers compete in the Novice Men’s eight, Novice Women’s eight, and Novice Men’s four. All three boats failed to qualify for the grand finals following the semi-finals.

All four GVSU eights that qualified for the afternoon grand finals represented the university in grand fashion. To start off the afternoon, GVSU raced at 12:00pm in the Men’s Varsity Heavyweight eight. In a tightly contested race off of the start line, the Lakers found themselves down to the University of Michigan by four seats heading into Strawberry Mansion Bridge. At the bridge, the eight caught a boat stopping crab and quickly fell off the pace of the contending boats. In the end, GVSU finished the race in fifth place in a time of 6:03.8. The winners were University of Michigan with a time of 5:54.4, followed by Purdue University at 5:57.7 and Fordham 6:00.6.

The GVSU Varsity Women’s eight immediately followed the men’s final at 12:07pm. The Lady Lakers got off to a commanding start and controlled the race throughout. Their strength in the head wind favored the women down the race course as they powered through the choppy waters. In the end, GVSU was earned a gold medal in the D1 varsity women’s eight grand final in a time of 6:41.2 ahead of U of Buffalo at 6:45.2 and Saint Joseph’s at 6:46.8. Buffalo’s Director of Rowing Rudy Wieler commented to Head Coach John Bancheri, “John, I want you to know that your gals beat a good crew today.” Coach Bancheri responded, “Rudy, coming from one of the great teachers of our sport and coaching mentors of mine, that was the greatest compliment I heard all day.”

Next up was the GVSU DII/DIII Varsity Women’s eight (this was our 2nd varsity eight, with a coxswain, Allie Mendels-FR who is only in her 1st semester in the sport). In another quick final, the Lakers rowed strong through the wind but were unable to catch the Mercyhurst crew who powered to a length lead in the first 1000 meters. In the end, GVSU finished an impressive second place to Mercyhurst at 6:50.2 and themselves at 6:53.8.

The final race for GVSU was the Men’s Second Varsity eight at 1:40pm. The men overcame a difficult start to fight back into the pack at the bridge. The Lakers used a strong move to get into the mix and finished with a sprint ahead of the University of Michigan to move into third place. The race finished with Temple in first, Jacksonville in second, and GVSU at third.

The Dad Vail Regatta finished in the early afternoon with the University of Buffalo and University of Delaware tying for first place in the team’s point trophy with 30 points. The Grand Valley State University finished third with a total of 29 points. This marks the second straight year that GVSU has placed in the top three in team points at the Dad Vail Regatta. The Lakers will take the following two weeks to train for the American Collegiate Regatta Association National Championship in Oak Ridge, TN on Memorial Day weekend…

The Grand Valley State University Rowing Club challenges its student-athletes to reach the highest level to which they aspire both academically and athletically, while continuing to build and sustain a nationally competitive intercollegiate rowing program.

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