April 19th, 2009
On Sunday, the Lakers completed its most successful SIRA Championship in Oak Ridge, TN. Due to a forecast of thunderstorms and heavy rain, the grand final championships were moved from the afternoon to Sunday morning. GVSU qualified seven out of eight boats for the grand finals through the heats and semi-final racing that took place Saturday. The championship rounds saw heavy rain and brisk weather throughout with little wind on the racecourse.
The morning kicked off with the Men’s Novice four final at 7:40 am. The boat consisted of Marty Reed at stroke, Topher Jarman-3, John Nance-2, Jerry Jarvis-1, and coxswain Dayna Campbell. The Lakers had a rough start and rowed to a sixth place finish. Although they fought hard down the course to a 7:31.2, Ohio State at 7:01.5 and Temple at 7:02.5 proved too much for the rest of the field.
The following race was the Women’s Novice eight (Open, DI) with Mollie Manson at stroke, Lindsey Marshall- 7, Christina Turner-6, Emily Zogas- 5, Alex Foster- 4, Lauren Adlof- 3, Tamara Hillman- 2, Rachel Kishman at bow, and coxswain Robi Scarborough. The girls chose to move up into the top tier race instead of racing in the Women’s club event. Coming off a lackluster semi-final performance, the ladies came off the line much better Sunday morning. Grand Valley used the quick start and long body of the race to establish themselves as contenders. In the end, GVSU wasn’t quite strong enough to hold off the powerful novice eight from Alabama. The Lakers took second place in the final in a time of 7:20.2, behind University of Alabama at 7:14.9 and ahead of Kansas State University at 7:26.4. Coach Ola Nwabara commented, “The girls faced their first challenge of the year this weekend. They had to fight hard to qualify for the final and rose to the occasion this morning. I was pleased with their progress throughout the weekend.”
In the next event, GVSU competed in the Men’s Novice eight with Marco Benedetti at stroke, Tucker Anderson- 7, Zak Armstrong- 6, Aaron Gesquiere- 5, Carter Brown- 4, Josh Stauber- 3, Mitch McClain- 2, Jimmy Wilkie at bow, and coxswain Hallie Dorsey. The Lakers charged to the front of the pack with a sharp start and strong settle. However, Delaware and Marietta made a strong push into and past the Lakers through the 1000m marker and led to the finish. At the finish, University of Delaware took first at 6:24.6, Marietta College second at 6:26.2, and GVSU third at 6:29.9 ahead of University of Virginia, Notre Dame, and University of North Carolina.
The Men’s Junior Varsity eight followed with Kyle Dara, So. at stroke, Daniel Robertson, Sr.- 7, Peter DiFrisco, So.- 6, Daniel Schoolcraft, Jr.- 5, Jonathon Havenhill, Fr.- 4, Brendan Sawyer, So.- 3, Matt Rejc, Jr.- 2, Scott Feil, Jr. at bow, and coxswain Aly Mendels, Fr. The race was quick and tight down the entirety of the course. Temple used a strong start to establish itself over the entire race. In what amounted to a battle for the second place finish, Grand Valley fell short rowing to a fifth place finish. Temple won with a 6:21.1, followed by Jacksonville at a 6:25.0, Delaware at a 6:25.3, Purdue at 6:26.3 and GVSU at 6:26.8 with only 1.8 seconds separating second through fifth place.
The next final was the Women’s Varsity eight (Club, DII, DIII) that sat Renee Chouinard, Sr. at stroke, Kaitlin Steigenga, Sr.- 7, Alex VanderArk, Jr.- 6, Abby Quisenberry, So.- 5, Lauren Holben, Jr.- 4, Hanna Jones, Fr.- 3, Kari Oshanski, Fr.- 2, Hannah Brinza, So at bow, and coxswain Rebecca Turchanik. The Lakers struggled at the start but fought back into the top ranked DII team in the country, Mercyhurst. The final sprint gave Mercyhurst the edge at a time of 7:08.9 to GVSU’s 7:14. 2. Nova Southeastern followed in third place at a time of 7:24.0. The Laker’s second varsity eight will look to continue to build its speed and will enter the Women’s Varsity DII eight race at Dad Vail.
Immediately following, the Women’s Varsity eight (Open, DI) competed with Sarah Zelenka, Sr. at stroke, Sam Morgan, Jr.- 7, Laura Marshall, So.- 6, Kelsey Arnold, So.- 5, Kendra Socks, Jr.- 4, Katie Phelan, So. – 3, Kelli O’Brien, So.- 2, Leslie Mayville, So. at bow, and coxswain Katie Higgins, Jr. The women raced against nationally ranked No. 17 Louisville in the semi-final on Saturday, as well as many other top-tier DI scholarship programs. Using a quick start, GVSU was even with UL through the 1000 meter mark before falling off pace in the final section of the race. GVSU rowed to a second place finish in the semi-final ahead of Indiana University. In the Sunday final, the Lakers would have to again face its toughest challenge of the year. With an excellent start and shift to pace, the Lakers took a two seat lead on UL across the 1000m mark and up on the rest of the field. As the strong and experienced Cardinals made a push back around the 1250 mark, the young Lakers battled hard but fell short in the end. The final placed Louisville at 6:47.8, GVSU at 6:54.8, Indiana University at 7:00.0, Kansas State University at 7:01.3, Purdue at 7:04.7, and Kansas University at 7:10.1. Assistant Coach Mark McIlduff said, “The women proved that they are at the level of some of the nation’s top programs. I think the lack of experience against that sort of competition may have shown in the closing part of both women’s races, but it was very impressive to see both eights perform so well. We are all very proud of how hard they raced.”
In the final event of the morning championships, GVSU boated a Men’s Varsity eight of Blake Donovan, Sr. at stroke, Geoff Sadek, Sr.- 7, Breck Davis, Jr.- 6, Mark McClusky, Jr.- 5, Ryan League, Jr.- 4, Justin Ott, Sr.- 3, Adam Cecil, Sr.- 2, Mike Stoll, Jr. at bow, and coxswain Ashley Stevens, Sr. The men had a difficult challenge in the Saturday heats when they faced off against a powerful Temple crew. In the heats, Temple sprinted through to nip the Lakers at a time of 6:02.6 to GVSU’s 6:02.7. In the Saturday afternoon semi-final, the Lakers showed the tired legs from the morning heats as they came off the line sluggish in a competitive field. Down at the 1000m mark by a length to FIT and Purdue, the Lakers also trailed Delaware. With a furious move with 800m to go, the Lakers chased down the field to set up a sprint to the finish. GVSU finished second behind FIT, edging out Purdue and Delaware in the semi-final. The Sunday final saw a loaded field of FIT, Jacksonville, Purdue, Temple, GVSU, and Notre Dame. FIT took off on the field on the start, as GVSU settled into the middle of the pack. GVSU used another strong move in the third 500m to establish itself into the sprint. FIT had a little too much speed for the Lakers, as they finished at 6:09.6 ahead of GVSU at 6:13.1. Finishing off the final were Temple at 6:14.0, Purdue at 6:15.3, Jacksonville at 6:15.7, and Notre Dame at 6:24.0.
Head Coach John Bancheri summarized, “This weekend showcased our program speed. I was extremely happy with how all of the crews performed. Seven boats in the grand finals is an amazing feat for Grand Valley. What is even more impressive is that these student athletes are in the middle of their final examinations. To come down here and perform this well with that on their mind speaks volumes of every single one of them. We will concentrate on the academics this week and return to prepare for the Dad Vail and ACRA. I believe we still have speed to gain.”
Complete Results: http://www.regattacentral.com/regatta/results/1184.pdf
The Laker Navy will continue to train as they go through final examination week. They return to the water on May 2nd to host the 45th Annual Mid American Collegiate Rowing Association’s Championship Regatta in Comstock Riverside Park at Grand Rapids, MI.
An Alumni’s Take
“As alums who have raced SIRA as well as coached here, it was a true pleasure and honor seeing our University’s rowing team compete on such a high level on Saturday and Sunday. All of our boats, both men and women, competed on a very high level and their hard work led to GVSU being the talk of the regatta. It was inspiring to us this weekend to see such a strong passion in the rowers from the senior to freshman level. Rowing is one of the most unique sports to Grand Valley. Here, as a club, we sometimes get to choose at which level to compete on. Today the Women’s Varsity Eight chose to race against scholarship funded, Division One competition. They went toe to toe with the Number 17th ranked program in Division One and defeated several other nationally recognized programs to finish second in the Division I Grand Final. The women’s second eight and novice eights both achieved Silver Medals in their respective Grand Finals. This is promising news that the Women’s team is going to be producing potential National Champions for year to come. The men’s program showed that it might be performing at it highest level in it’s 40 year history. The Varsity men finished second in the Grand Final ahead of many Division One program like Purdue, Temple, Jacksonville and others. Although the men are graduating several in the top boat, the JV Eight and Freshmen Eight and Four showed us there is plenty of depth on the men’s side to continue to bring home winning results. As a GVSU Alum at this event, it really makes us proud when all the talk at a large regatta like this is, “Watch out for Grand Valley”, “Grand Valley is the deepest program here”. These kinds of comments reflect well on the alums, athletes, program, and university. We understand that the support that alumni and the university gives our rowing program is truly helping spread a positive name and image of GVSU far beyond the reaches of West Michigan.”
John Palk ‘04
A Parent’s Perspective of GVSU Rowing
“We just got back to our hometown (Marietta, Ohio), after another outstanding performance by a group of young adults from Grand Valley State University. This weekend it was Tennessee, last weekend Grand Haven and the weekend before it was Marietta, Ohio. This is how we have enjoyed our weekends in the spring since our son; Daniel became a Laker and a college rower in 2006. Over the course of 3 years we as parents have supported one of the best groups of students under the best group of coaches any University would be proud to have.
I remember Grand Valley State University when they came to Marietta back it the late 60’s to race with only a few teams. Now see how many teams Grand Valley competes with. This weekend in Tennessee, Grand Valley State University Rowing competed against 61 teams from 19 states. They competed in 8 events, of those eight, 7 made it to the grand finals. They ended today by bringing back to Grand Valley State University 4 Silvers and one Bronze.
Every year since our association with GVSU we have seen a steady and constant progression of success in the rowing program. We truly believe this only comes from a committed coaching staff as well as support from the University.
Rowing venue is not a major money maker but it is by far the best marketing tool you would want for your University. It is always nice to be able to answer the question that we are always asked “Where is Grand Valley State University”.
We will always support our son Daniel, Coach Bancheri and his coaches, the team, and GVSU.”
Ok-Bin and Ken Schoolcraft