Archive for March, 2010

Lakers Place Well in SDCC Grand Finals

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In the first race of the day for the Lakers, the women competed in the grand final of the Jessop-Whittier Cup for Varsity Invitational eights. The Lakers narrowly held off Radcliffe and UC-Davis to advance to the finals on Saturday. The grand final saw USC in lane 1, UVA in lane 2, GVSU in lane 3, WSU in lane 4, Radcliffe in lane 5, and UCLA in lane 6. The top ranked teams from USC and UVA jumped out to an early advantage on the rest of the field on the start. Their powerful rhythm was clearly going to make the event a two boat race for first. Out of the first 500 meters, the remaining four crews settled back with WSU and UCLA taking a length lead on Radcliffe and GVSU. As the field moved through the thousand, UVA and USC raced for first, UCLA and WSU raced for third, and GVSU and Radcliffe were in a battle for fifth. The Lakers held a clear advantage with 750 meters to go, but could not keep pace with the more experienced ladies from Boston. The final sprint saw the field show their experience once more, as all five crews opened up more on the Lakers. UVA won the race in a time of 6:34.2. GVSU took sixth place with a time of 6:58.2.

Assistant Coach Mark McIlduff said, “We made a decision to go for broke and just see if we could hang on in the first thousand meters. Ultimately, it probably cost us the race for fifth, but why not gamble? It was our second two-thousand meter piece of the year, and we are here to learn. This weekend proved to be an invaluable experience for the girls and for the program. Anytime you can face off against boats that will potentially vie for the D-I national championship, it will make everyone in our program better.”

The men’s eight raced later in the morning when the wind had picked up. The race was for the Health Specialty Varsity Cal Cup and included Trinity College in lane 1, GVSU in lane 2, WSU in lane 3, Notre Dame in lane 4, British Columbia in lane 5, and Cal-Lightweights in lane 6. A quick start by Trinity saw the Bantums out front on an otherwise even field. Trinity continued to push out before shifting with a length lead on the field. At the thousand meter marker, GVSU made a huge move into British Columbia to push out to a commanding grasp of the second position, while WSU and ND remained connected to UBC. After another surge, GVSU drew contact with Trinity with 300 meters left in the race. However, the Bantums from Hartford, CT had the Lakers’ number as they held off the move to pull ahead to a boat length victory. Trinity won the final in a time of 6:22.6, with GVSU finishing second in 6:27.9.

Head Coach John Bancheri exclaimed, “We are now at the LAX airport getting ready to fly back to Grand Rapids. The San Diego Crew Classic was a fantastic event and the weather was a gift from Mother Nature. The women finshed 6th in the premier womens event after fighting a tough first thousand and then fading in the second 1K. You gotta love the chuztpah and the fact that they jumped off the line and pushed the envelope. They had no speed work preparation coming into this regatta, yet charged out of the start like they had prepared all winter. You have to love it when they challenge NCAA top ten speed and see how long they can hang. In the end we were a long way off (24 seconds from UVA), but for a home grown program you have to be extremely pleased with the performance. The reality is we are a top 25 team in the US and we’ll have a few opportunities to prove our speed as we develop further with more water time and chances to get together in the big boats.

The men finished second to a Trinity Crew that blasted off the line like a NHRA dragster….and they kept going. Our guys fell behind early in the race but settled into a long and smooth rhythm, looking long and relaxed. At the 1000 meter mark they made an obvious move on then 2nd place British Columbia, overtaking them by a few seats. In the 3rd 500 the guys ate back into Trinity’s boat length lead which helped pull them ahead of the crew battling for 3rd place. In the end Trinity won by a few seats of open water, but our guys knew they have a strong body and as we gain water time this season and finally get the speed work required to compete at a higher level we will be able to put together a solid race from start to finish. We came into the year thinking we would rebuild, but this weekend certainly shows that we have re-evaluated those expectations. We will get back to work this week in preparation for a major regatta we host next weekend against the top club programs in the Midwest. This weekend shows that Grand Valley is ready to take another step in the development of the program.

All I can say is that there was some great racing by all of our athletes, we are all so proud. Thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible. Watch our kids get faster every week.”

Director of Student Life Bob Stoll remarked about the weekend, “It is amazing to travel across the country to this prestigious event with so many outstanding rowing programs represented. It is a great honor for Grand Valley to be invited to participate in this regatta. Our student athletes don’t have the nice California weather conditions that enable their teams to practice on the water every day all year long. The long winter months in Michigan require our athletes to train extensively indoors at their training center. To watch the day in and day out intensity and dedication of Grand Valley athletes is a real tribute to their pursuit of national recognition. It was exciting to hear the announcer at the regatta say that Grand Valley has the best club rowing program in the country. This confirms the results of the hard work the athletes and the coaching staff have put forth every day . I look forward to supporting the team during the coming spring season as they continue their intense work and dedication to the elite sport of rowing.”

The Lakers host the 12th Annual Lubbers Cup Regatta on Spring Lake, MI April 3rd. The regatta includes entries from University of Michigan (Men), Michigan State University- Club, University of Notre Dame (Men), Ohio State University- Club, MSOE, Marquette, and Eastern Michigan University- Women.

Laker Navy shows strong colors at SDCC finals

Monday, March 29th, 2010

by Dayna Campbell

After much anticipation surrounding both men and women Grand Valley crews making it through the heats and on to the finals, both boats came out strong. The women raced at 9:15am (12:15pm Michigan time). Their competition included: Virginia, who received top honors in the Jessop-Whittier Cup, followed by USC, UCLA, Washington State, Radcliffe, and Grand Valley with a time of 6:58.2. It was a close race from the starting line and the women did everything they could to close on as much water as they could. In the commentary during the live coverage of their heat race on Saturday, the commentator said that the Grand Valley women are undoubtedly the best women’s club team. I think few would disagree with that statement.

The men raced at 10:50am (1:50pm Michigan time). Competitors for them were: Trinity who snagged the first place title with a time of 6:22.6, following just behind was Grand Valley with a time of 6:27.89, Washington State, British Columbia, Notre Dame, and lastly University of California (Lightweight).

Rowers and coaches alike are expected to arrive back in Grand Rapids at 11:30am Monday, March 30, after a long red-eye flight. This coming weekend these crews, as well as the rest of the fleet will race in the Arend D. Lubber’s Cup, this year held in Spring Lake, MI.

Reflections of Grand Valley Alumnus on 2010 San Diego Crew Classic

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

by Dana Schmunck, Class of 1997

I am one of the luckiest GVSU alumni here at the GVSU rowing team’s debut in the San Diego Crew Classic. I was happy to also be racing and to be there to watch the team race so well. The women raced in the toughest event of the women’s category, working hard and from our perspective, making it look easy, to come in second in their race, beating Radcliffe (Harvard) and UC-Davis. The GVSU men also put on an excellent performance and were first in their heat. I have to say, as an alumnus, this is an amazing feat for these athletes, one that makes me very proud of my heritage. I give my thanks and my praise to John Bancheri, Mark McIlduff, and the entire coaching staff, and to what they have achieved in their few short years at Grand Valley.

On Sunday racing, I was very proud of how the women carried themselves and pushed hard right from the start of their race. I know the extra effort they put forth in the first thousand meters cost them and they didn’t place as well as they would have liked, but I think looking back on how well they competed, they should be proud of how they did in their debut at San Diego. On the men’s side, their final was great, with great racing neck and neck with Trinity College throughout their event. Trinity had an amazing start and pulled ahead, but our boys fought right back, edging into the Trinity crew, coming down to the line and placing second in the American Health Specialty Cup.

I have always been proud to be an alumnus of GVSU rowing. However, today, I was especially proud for all the athletes on how well they raced and represented our university. The announcers for the races may have said it best, when they said, “Grand Valley is probably the best overall club program in the country.”

Lakers have excellent Saturday at SDCC, qualify for Grand Finals

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The men’s and women’s varsity eights traveled to San Diego this weekend to compete at the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic. The team flew out of Grand Rapids Thursday afternoon and arrived at Los Angeles International late that evening. After a full sleep, both squads went to the course early Friday morning to rig and practice on the course. Following practice, the team attended a past dinner hosted by the regatta with other competitors.

Saturday morning’s heats saw the men race at 7:50 am pst in the Varsity Cal Cup. The events coaches seeded GVSU third, giving the men the top lane in the third heat. A quick start by the field placed four crews, GVSU, British Columbia, Georgia Tech, and Drexel even going through the first five hundred. The Lakers held their strong rhythm through the thousand and made a long, powerful move into British Columbia with 750 meters to go. The final stretch of the race saw the Thunderbirds of British Columbia go hard into the half length lead GVSU established. The Lakers maintained their poise to hold off the Thunderbirds, winning in a time of 6:21.8. British Columbia followed in 6:23.3 and Georgia Tech took third in 6:25.1. The Laker men advance to the grand final tomorrow at 10:50 am pst. The race will see Trinity College (CT) in lane 1, GVSU in lane 2, Washington State University in lane 3, Notre Dame in lane 4, British Columbia in lane 5, and University of California Lightweights in lane 6.

The varsity women took to Mission Bay at 9:00 am pst for their heat in the Varsity Invitational Jessop-Whittier Cup. With the top three crews advancing to the grand final, it was going to be a tough race for the Lakers. The start saw the University of Southern California jump out on the field, striking at a 46 before settling to a 36 for the body. Following the first five hundred meters, it was clear it would be a three boat race for the final two spots in the final Sunday. GVSU fought back after a rough start to pull ahead of Harvard University (Radcliffe College) and University of California- Davis in the middle of the race. With a two seat advantage heading into the final sprint, both crews pushed back into GVSU. With a final surge the Lakers held off the Crimson and Aggies, taking second in the heat in a time of 6:59.0 compared to Radcliffe’s 6:59.4 and Davis’ 6:59.5. USC took the top time in 6:44.2. The grand final will see USC in lane 1, University of Virginia in lane 2, GVSU in lane 3, Washington State University in lane 4, Radcliffe College in lane 5, and UCLA in lane 6.

Coach Bancheri said, “We dreamed of an opportunity to travel here and compete at a higher level. All of our athletes have done just that, and beyond. We feel that the sky is limit for this group. As a club, we can sit back and make excuses competing against these top programs with outstanding resources, but our athletes will not stand for that. They made a decision early this season to not let their ‘club’ status affect their standing. Tomorrow will provide our students with another chance to progress our program at a national level.”

The Laker Navy will again represent GVSU tomorrow in the grand final. The women vie for the Jessop-Whittier Cup at 9:15 am pst while the men race for the Cal Cup at 10:50 am PST.

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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