The Grand Valley rowing team dived into its competitive fall racing season on Sunday in Lansing at The Head of the Grand Regatta. The races provided the team, especially the novice crews, with valuable competitive experience, and also gave them an idea of what they’ll face in upcoming races in Indianapolis and Boston.Grand Valley rowers made strong showings all around. The men’s novice eights took first and third against Michigan and MSU. The novice women performed impressively as well, taking first in the eight by almost 45 seconds. The top novice men’s and women’s fours won their events definitively and were excited about their first races. Novice Jordan Crandell notes, “I was super nervous. But I thought the races went really well. We’ve got a lot to learn, but it was a great first regatta.”Although the varsity athletes did not face the novelty that clearly motivated their younger teammates, they stepped up to the familiarity of racing with fresh legs and competitive spirit. Both varsity women’s eights were tenacious in their event, with the 1V walking away from the field and the 2V reeling in MSU. The top two Grand Valley women’s fours tied for first place, and the other GV boats finished within less than a minute of their simultaneously victorious teammates. On the men’s side, the V8 was edged out of first place by a Michigan crew, but senior captain Brendan Sawyer says it was good experience for the team. “Right now we are on the edge of being competitive with other top club programs. This year we have a young 8+ and with time we will close the gap. We are getting faster every practice we have together; it’s only a matter of time and committment,” he says. The men’s fours also faced stiff competition from their U of M rivals, but rowed solid races that will set them up for the rest of the fall season.