By Ross Anderson
The post office is known for saying that wind, rain, or snow won’t stop the mail. The weather also doesn’t stop the rowing team.
Last weekend, the Grand Valley State University rowing team hosted the Lubbers Cup Regatta in Grand Rapids. Facing horrendous weather, in which the Lakers were hailed, snowed, and rained on, they showed great speed against some of the nations top programs. None of that stopped them from the Lakers coming away with the team points trophy.
Grand Valley went up some of the fastest programs in North America. The 18th -ranked University of Michigan men came along with the University of Western Ontario men, who had four Canadian national team rowers on their squad. Notre Dame, Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University and Western Michgan University sent both men’s and women’s squads. Eastern Michigan University sent their women’s team, which is a varsity program. Notre Dame’s women and Western Ontario’s men are also varsity programs, while the rest of the field were clubs.
“It’s great to have a race where you can draw such teams as as ND who pulled in 17 votes (in the last national poll),” said GVSU head coach John Bancheri. “It was great to have an early season event here because it’s helped raised our level of expectation.”
The Lakers performed well in most of their events throughout the day. Most notably were the ‘A’ novice fours. In the women’s race, the lineup of Emily Thacker, Meryl Chaffee, Jessi Dewey, Kelli O’Brien and coxswain Ashley Stevens won the 2000m race by almost over minute over crews from EMU, MSU and even NMU.
The men’s ‘A’ novice four had a bigger challenge, as they battled against a top-notch crew from UM. Jeff Slater, Blake Donovan, Scott Sikorski, Joe Reagan and coxswain Jessy Meyerhoff kicked it into gear during the last 300m of the race, pulling ahead of UM by just under two seconds. The rest of the crews in the race finished at least 30 seconds behind.
Other notables on the day include the men’s novice eight, which finished second by only five seconds to UM, the women’s varsity eight that took second behind ND, and women’s ‘B’ varsity four which won their race.
This was the first Lubbers Cup Regatta for first-year coach Bancheri. The Lakers have already experienced the level of success he brings to programs. It was the first time in years the team took home the overall team points trophy, Bancheri said. That goes along with the Lakers performance at the Head of the Elk Regatta in the fall, in which they almost won that regatta for the first time ever.
“The system is working,” Bancheri said. “I am pleased, winning the overall points trophy is because everyone in our program is contributing to our success.”
Bancheri also said he hopes the Lakers can get out on the water more and work on their boat speed for their upcoming regattas.
Grand Valley will next host a couple of races at the GVSU boathouse this Saturday, with races going from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. against teams from Northwestern and North Park university. Later on the men will face the University of Cincinnati, with races going from 4-6 p.m. Students can watch the races from the boathouse of BFE, where the finish line will be located.