Archive for May, 2010

Grand Valley scores successful three-peat at ACRA

Monday, May 24th, 2010

High winds were once again an obstacle for the Grand Valley rowing team, this time at the American Collegiate Rowing Association championship in Oklahoma City. Throughout the weekend, sustained crosswinds of over twenty miles an hour persisted, with gusts of over forty miles an hour at times, challenging coxswains and small boat rowers alike. However, in the end, things would work out for the Lakers, as GVSU succeeded in scoring its third straight ACRA Women’s and ACRA Overall Team Points Championships, continuing its winning streak since the inaugural ACRA Championship.

Saturday’s heats and semifinals went well for the Lakers, with only the Men’s Novice 8 narrowly missing the grand finals. In light of the conditions, many races were run in a time-trial format, foregoing the challenges of alignment and providing a fair means of lane choice for races that were straight to final, such as the Women’s Single.

Sunday’s races were plagued by even harsher winds, which became progressively worse throughout the morning. The first Grand Valley boat to compete on Sunday, the Women’s Single, managed to start without a hitch, resulting in a one-two finish for GVSU, with Krista Rapisarda and Hanna Jones taking first and second, respectively.

The Men’s Double, rowed by twins Andrew and Peter Zwierzynski, struggled in the high winds and waves, nearly swamping in the unprotected Lane 7, finishing in sixth place with the hull almost completely full of water.

They would be the last small boat to race, as shortly thereafter officials suspended racing because of the conditions, sending the GVSU Women’s Double, Men’s Pair, Women’s Pair, and Men’s Novice Lightweight 4 back to the docks. After over an hour’s delay, regatta officials decided to cancel the remaining small boat and the majority of petit final races, scoring results based off of Saturday’s semifinals and time trials. In this way, the Women’s Double, Women’s Pair, and Men’s Novice Lightweight 4 were awarded second place medals, with the Men’s Pair receiving fourth.

Racing resumed with the Dad Vail Champion Men’s Varsity 4, who scored a respectable second behind Sonoma State Rowing Club, with a time of 7:26.190 to Sonoma’s 7:20.970. This group of sophomores won the Dad Vail two weekends ago and will also have the chance to race at the Henley Royal Regatta in late June. The Women’s Varsity 4 would win their respective grand final by nearly 17 seconds over the University of Chicago, finishing with a time of 7:12.200. This group broke out of the women’s JV eight due to lack of entries and will also travel to England later in the summer.

The big boats finally hit the water with the Women’s Novice 8, who won with a time of 5:15.517 over second place Colorado, who had a time of 5:24.591 over the shortened course. The win concluded a fantastic spring for the novice women as they placed first at SIRA, fourth at the Dad Vail, and first at ACRA. The group looks to add to a deep squad returning next fall for the Lakers.

The Women’s Varsity 8 was narrowly edged out of victory by Purdue University, finishing with a time of 4:21.590 to Purdue’s 4:20.000. Unfortunately, the showdown between the clear top two club teams in the country was shortened to 1500m when outside crews continually broke away from the starting blocks. Coach Bancheri said, “It is a shame they raced a national championship over 1500m. We train all year for a 2000m race, we even changed the gearing just for that reason. Hats off to both crews for that race, but the officials should not have raced a 1500m for the national championship in a varsity eight event.”

The Men’s Varsity 8 rowed what Head Coach John Bancheri deemed their best race of the season, yet finished sixth in their final, due once again to racing in the unprotected Lane 7. Fighting the crosswind, the Lakers managed to pull into third early and held that ground into the 1000m mark when they hit a wall under the bridge. Stroke Jeff Slater commented, “We were moving and were in control of third, then just hit a wall. I don’t know what happened, but we got out of the bridge and were in last. We went after it early and tried to hold on.” The Lakers rowed to a 6:38.6, off of UM in 6:27.8, Bucknell at 6:29.5, and WSU at 6:34.5.

The Men’s Novice 8 would finish the day for the Lakers, coming in second in the petite final for their event behind Bucknell University.

Despite the adverse conditions, the Lakers were still successful enough across the board to defend their Overall Team Points Championship, a title they have defended since the first ACRA, alongside the ACRA Women’s Team Points Championship. Though the season is now over for many of the Lakers, many will also be heading on to the Royal Henley and Henley Women’s Regattas in late June and early July. These rowers have a brief respite from sanctioned practice for this week, before practice once again resumes with a 2000-meter erg test on Monday the 31st.

Lakers armed and dangerous for ACRA

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Grand Valley Rowing is travelling to Oklahoma City this weekend to participate in the 2010 American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship. The Lakers are coming off a disappointing finish at the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta but look to resolve their season on a high note. GVSU won the Team Points Championship at the inaugural ACRA National Championship in 2008 and then repeated as champions in 2009. Looking for a three-peat, GVSU will be sending nearly the entire squad to Oklahoma City to help earn team points.

Leading the charge will be the men’s and women’s varsity eights. The men come into the weekend having made the grand finals at the San Diego Crew Classic and SIRA, but falling short at the Dad Vail and having a narrow loss at the Lubbers Cup. The men are seeded fourth. However, they look to be peaking at the right time and will be hoping to improve on last year’s bronze medal finish at the ACRA. The women have been grand finalists at the SDCC, SIRA, and Dad Vail, but have fallen short of the medal stand on each instance. The women enter the weekend as the number two seed behind Purdue, and will be looking to end their season well this weekend.

Other entries include the men’s and women’s novice eights. The women have risen to the occasion all spring, with wins at Lubbers, SIRA, MACRA, and a fourth place finish at Dad Vail. They will enter the regatta as the top seed and look to continue their high performance. The men have had a more roller coaster season, but have picked up speed in the weeks leading up to the regatta and are looking to improve on past performance. They enter the weekend in the seventh seed.

GVSU will also field multiple small boats this weekend. Leading that contingent is the Dad Vail Champion men’s varsity four. The boat is comprised entirely of sophomores and has come on strong over the final month of the season. The field at the ACRA looks to be just as challenging, if not more so than the Dad Vail. Joining the four will be a men’s pair, a men’s novice lightweight four, and a men’s double. On the women’s side, the Lakers will be rowing a women’s varsity four, a women’s pair, a women’s double, and two women’s singles.

The Lakers will arrive in Oklahoma City early Friday for a practice. The heats and semi-finals will take place on Saturday, with the grand finals on Sunday.

Adverse conditions at Vails a challenge for GVSU rowers

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

by Katie Phelan

The Grand Valley rowing team has trained all year to work with whatever challenge they meet, and rather than reward them for this training, the Aberdeen Dad Vail regatta tested them further. Saturday’s final events were raced into a 25-45 mph headwind, causing technical difficulties for every team, and creating an inconsistent current across the river.

Friday’s heats, on the other hand, were raced in nearly perfect conditions. The Grand Valley rowers plowed through calm water to move on in nearly every event – the Women’s 8+, the Men’s 8+, Men’s 4+, the Women’s 4+ took first, while the Men’s 2-, Novice Men’s and Women’s 8+, and Women’s DII 8+ took second. The Men’s Novice 4+ didn’t advance, but rowed an impressive race. The sunshine and light headwind gave no indication that Saturday’s weather would add another component of difficulty to the races for which the rowers have been preparing since September.

Saturday’s early events proceeded as scheduled even in brisk winds. Again, Grand Valley showed its depth and dominance across the board, winning semi-final events in the Women’s 8+, and sending boats to finals in the Women’s 4+, Novice 8+, and Men’s 4+.

The Varsity Men’s 8+ raced in a stacked semi-final, and just missed a second place finish to Delaware and Temple. Jeff Slater noted the guys were pumped and ready to go at the start of the semi, but couldn’t quite pull it off even despite a solid sprint. “We started behind and we didn’t gain back the ground,” he said. The guys moved on to the petite finals.

The novice women placed 4th in their final event, and the Women’s 4+ placed 6th.

The weather took a turn as the remaining final events were scheduled to compete. The regatta was postponed for about an hour as winds howled through the venue, lifting dust and rowers’ pillows and even blowing an eight off the top rack of a neighboring team’s trailer. As the winds persisted even through the delay, it became evident that no solution existed but to continue racing as normally as possible. The regatta was called back on, and rapidly the boats launched onto the Schuylkill’s rough water.

The Men’s Varsity 4+ took home Grand Valley’s only victory of the day, pulling off a first-place finish even in the conditions. Aaron Gesquire, Zak Armstrong, Marty Reed, Tucker Anderson and coxswain Dayna Campbell were down as they pulled into the bridge, but shortly thereafter shot out to a lead which they held until the island and re-established into the finish. Aaron Gesquire says, “It was really hard to row through the wind,” citing the weather as the most difficult aspect of the race. “Not every crew is used to having that wind, or any wind.” He says he and his teammates were excited at the victory: “It hurt, but after we won, the pain went away.”

The Women’s Division II 8+ rowed to a fifth place finish from an unprotected lane, after finishing second in the semifinal to Barry. Lauren Adlof describes the course as “wavy and windy,” and when asked whether she thinks the conditions affected her unfairly, she says, “I don’t know – it probably affected everyone the same. But it made racing in general a lot harder. It was a rough race.”

The Men’s 8+ finished second to St. Joseph in the petite finals. They rowed a solid start and were up by open water when they rowed through the bridge and hit the wind. “Lanes one through three were out of the race, and five and six were more sheltered,” said Jeff Slater. Grand Valley, who raced in lane four, saw the weather affect all the boats in the race – one team dropped down to rowing by sixes as the speculated result of a crab. “We were more frustrated with the weather than anything,” he says. Mike Stoll, who kept last year’s Vails wristband on until completion of the races this year, said the guys agreed that “it really makes you question every decision you’ve made all year. We’re still optimistic. It was a fast field this year, and we look forward to ACRA where we can redeem ourselves.”

The Women’s Varsity 8+ finished fifth, after winning their semi-final by open water over Sacramento and posting the second-fastest semi-final time of the day. Sacramento won the final event out of lane 6, and none of the top three seeds placed in the race. Purdue, who had the fastest semi-final time of the day, lodged a formal complaint to the regatta after their 4th place finish, claiming that the currents varied enough in the lanes to create unfair racing conditions. Kelsey Arnold says, “The conditions were the worst I’ve ever rowed in, and if not for the wind, I think it would have been a different outcome. The weather was an advantage and a disadvantage to all the crews.”

The Grand Valley rowers experienced a team-wide frustration after training for eight months for one six-minute race – and besides the Men’s 4+, having little to show for it. Across the team, conversations were held about grueling erg pieces, pair time trials, and practice in a blizzard, all of which should have ideally culminated into a stronger showing at Vails. Despite these hours of intense training, no one could compete to their full potential with the wind undermining their meticulous bladework practice.

The coaches understood their team’s frustration, and encouraged the rowers to look forward to ACRA and the Henley Regatta in England. In a speech to the team after the regatta, Coach Bancheri reminded the rowers that rowing is not about the medals, it is about the struggle and triumph that goes into training for one. “Medals will end up in a drawer somewhere,” added senior captain Sam Morgan. The Dad Vail regatta, this year, was not about the results, but rather about facing a difficult and potentially unfair situation, performing to the best of their abilities regardless, and keeping their heads up even in disappointing results. Grand Valley rowers have been trained for adversity. They could not prove it on the water, so they shouldered the disappointment and tried to keep spirits high, and for this weekend, proved what they’re made of off the water.

Lakers turn in respectable performance at Vails

Monday, May 10th, 2010

The 2010 Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta and the Laker Navy saw plenty of hard racing, great expectations, high winds and the gamut of emotions. GVSU’s 2010 Dad Vail fleet consisted of the two flagships, the Men and Women’s Varsity Eights, Women’s DII Varsity Eight, Men’s Varsity Four, Women’s DII/DIII Varsity Four, Men’s Pair, Men and Women’s Frosh/Novice Eights, and Men’s Frosh/Novice Four.

Of the nine boats entered, eight went on to race in the semi-finals on Saturday. All four women’s entries made it to the Grand Finals. Every member of the Women’s Varsity team and 11 of the 15 member women’s novice squad raced in a Dad Vail Grand Final. The Men’s Varsity Four sprinted under the wire in their Grand Final to the sound of “GV-SU” and then rowed away from the awards dock with the coveted Dad Vail Gold and cheers echoing after them.

In a Grand Final full of unisuits and Varsity DI programs, the Novice Women’s Eight placed 4th wearing their blue T-shirts just ahead of Delaware and 11 seconds ahead of their club counter-part, Purdue. After an impressive semi-final photo finish and regatta delays, the Women’s DII/III Varsity Four placed 6th out of 27 schools. The DII Women’s Varsity Eight and Women’s Open Varsity Eight both battled hard but came up short of the goals they set for themselves earlier in the year, finishing 5th out of 11 and 5th out of 36, respectively. Much frustration was felt amongst those two boats but that frustration will only turn into motivation over the next few weeks leading up to ACRA and the Women’s Henley Royal Regatta.

On the men’s side, both Novice boats earned valuable racing experience and got a taste of Dad Vail racing which will only intensify their already incredible work ethic and drive. The men’s pair gave it their all but was unable to make it out of the semi-final. After three close races the Men’s Varsity Eight placed second in the petite final. A result that will only add more fuel to the fire they have been building. They will have another chance to the light the match at the ACRA Championship Regatta May 22, 2010 in Oklahoma City.

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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