The Grand Valley Rowing Team started their championship racing season this past weekend at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta in Tennessee. Two of seven boats came home with gold medals, and the rest of the team made huge accomplishments for the program.
For the first thousand meters of the Men’s Lightweight Varsity 8+ race, Grand Valley, Purdue, and Texas were neck and neck. But that was when the Lakers made their move, taking a boat length’s lead and never looking back. When they crossed the finish line, they had a six second lead over the pack, coming in with a time of 6:19.20.
The Women’s Novice 8+ also dominated their event, beating out several Division I crews on their way to gold medals. This race by far brought their biggest competition of the season, but proved no match for the Lakers as they went on to win both heats and finals. Their time in the finals of 7:01.90 beat scholarship programs, such as Kansas and Louisville, and would have won the DII, DIII, and Club Novice event by almost 20 seconds.
The Men’s Varsity 8+ made their first appearance in the Grand Final after 1st and 3rd place finishes in heats and semis. They fell a little short, though, in the finals, finishing in 5th place overall. Their time of 6:07.84 put them seven seconds ahead of 6th place Florida Tech, but behind the leaders, Virginia and Purdue.
After dominating the DII, DIII, and Club event last year, the Women’s Varsity 8+ stepped it up a level, racing for the first time in the Division I/ Open event. The Lakers finished third in their heat, winning them a spot in the Grand Final. They fought a tough race in the finals, but in the end couldn’t overcome the speed of their competition, finishing in 6th place (6:58.30). Purdue won the event with a time of 6:47.50. Ohio State won the DII, DIII, and Club event with a time of 7:09.40.
An impressive second place finish in heats landed the Men’s Varsity 4+ in the AB semifinals, but after another tight race, the Lakers were edged out of third place by just over a second. They still qualified for the Petite Final, however, and their time of 7:10.12 put them at second place behind Virginia Tech and was the fifth fastest men’s 4+ of the day overall.
The Men’s Novice 8+ came in second in their heat, nearly 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. But after a close race in semis, the Lakers were out of reach of third place, putting them into the Petite Finals. Grand Valley took third in the final to St. Joe’s and Dayton, but beat rivals Marietta in the process.
The Women’s Second Varsity 8+ rowed a personal best race in the DII, DIII, and Club Varsity 8+ event, finishing fourth in their heat and fifth in their semifinal.
Grand Valley looks forward to facing some of this weekend’s top competition again in their upcoming races. Next up for the Laker Navy is the Mid-American Collegiate Rowing Association Championship Regatta in Athens, Ohio on May 3. From there, they will stay and train in Ohio before making the trip to Philadelphia, PA for the Dad Vail Club National Championship.