Crew Posts Strong Showing In Season Opener

March 24, 2007

Philadelphia, Pa. - Loyola's crew team began its 2007 campaign with a strong showing at the Murphy Cup in Philadelphia, Pa. on Saturday. The men's team sent its Varsity 8 to a fourth-place finish in the last race of the day, while the Novice 8 registered a fifth-place finish in its final. On the women's side, the women's Novice 4 also advanced to the finals, taking sixth, while the Varsity 4 and Novice 8 just missed advancing out of their heats.

The men's Varsity 8 rowed a very similar lineup to what they rowed at last years Dad Vail Championship that made the semi-finals. Laura Fischer coxed the crew of Devin Marsicovetere, Kyle Sanphy, Tom Scida, captain Doug Brown, Ed Garnett, Jack Vitanovec, Cody Kishur, and Dan Reardon.

"While we did loose a good rower in Rob Von Hagen to graduation last year," said Brown, "we were still expecting a lot out of the seven guys who returned for this season. That said, Sanphy did one heck of a job stepping in and meshing with the rest of the crew. His development is a big reason why we could come out here and race well today."

The crew advanced out of its heat by taking second to Army, but beating Drexel, LaSalle, and Susquehanna.

"We had a really good start," said Marsicovetere, the stroke. "Once we were in position to automatically advance, we just held the other crews off and tried to save our energy for the finals."

In the finals, the crew took fourth behind Temple, Lehigh, and Army, while beating Drexel and Lafayette both by open water. "While our start didn't leave us in great position right away, we had a great last 1500 meters to walk away from Drexel and gain ground on the other crews," said Marsicovetere. "With a better start, we probably could have taken Army as well."

The men's varsity team also raced a four consisting of Matt Spalluzzi, Tom Bellew, Zach Reichenbach, Kevin Murawski, and coxswain Rob Zdankiewicz. Unfortunately, the four was placed in the toughest heat and failed to advance, as it was unable to defeat crews such as gold winning Fordham and Temple.

"It's the best row that this JV four has had, we were just competing with fast varsity crews," said Spalluzzi. "We plan to build on this in the future."

The novice men received its first dose of spring racing. Impressing the coaching staff, the crew of Nick Miano, Marc Hess, Maciej Owsianny, Matt Butcher, Dennis Deleany, Travis O'Neal, Dan Keenan, Tom Berkery and Zdankiewicz, took second in its heat to advance to finals, where it registered a fifth-place finish.

"This novice crew has a great amount of potential," said Head Novice Coach Tony Buchman. "We hope that they will be able to contribute to the team immediately, with a couple of them rowing in varsity boats sooner rather than later."

It was the first spring action the `Hounds men's team had seen since the crew of Marsicovetere, Vitanovec, Kishur, Bellew, and Fischer were able win the third final of the Frosh Four event at IRA's, the unofficial NCAA men's rowing championship.

"That was a very impressive race for us," said Vitanovec. "We showed that we could beat crews from Temple and Boston College and we wanted to build off of that success. That has transitioned over to this year in the eight as we were able to finally top Drexel and give the crew from Army a race after they beat us badly at Dad Vails last year. We have to keep climbing the ladder so that we can eventually do well enough at Dad Vails to send a Varsity 8 to the IRAs somewhere in the future."

While the men's team is trying to climb the ladder to be a contender at Dad Vails, the women's team is on a mission to take back the MAAC championship crown from Marist. Captain Lauren Opalenski, who was a freshman when Loyola won its first women's MAAC championship back in 2004, said, "When we lost it last year after winning in `04 and `05, we came together and decided that we want it back. It's going to be hard, but I have faith that this group of girls can pull it off. We have a dedicated senior class who wants to go out on top."

Coach Al Ramirez called the women's novice four the "Cinderella story of the day." The crew of Lauren Issaeff, Allegra Esteves, Keri Gang, Jen Benensky, and cox Genevieve Dalton also advanced to the finals out of there heat by taking second. They then took sixth behind Bucknell, Penn State, Rutgers Camden, Lafayette, and Haverford.

"Its fair to say that we were not expecting a whole lot out of this crew, and they certainly surprised us. This kind of finish is a strong sign of the depth that our novice women's team has," said Ramirez. "This will be key to winning MAACs."

The women's varsity four barely missed advancing to the finals when it lost by 2.5 seconds to New York. While the crew of coxswain Christine Drennan, Nicole Yeager, Meg Thompson, Opalenski, and Katya Krieger-Redwood, were disappointed, they remain confident that they will be able to build off of this race. "It's hard anytime you loose by such a close margin, but we are dedicated to working hard in the upcoming weeks to make this boat a winning one," said Opalenski.

Coxed by Dalton, the women's novice eight of Daisy Carter, Liz Staub, Kelly McDermott, Meghan Fregeau, Molly Riley, Sheila Marsicovetere, Nell O'Connell, and Paulina Stachnik were another crew that just missed advancing to finals. Coach Ramirez explained that, "If the regatta officials had not decided to change the starting format from a stake-boat start to a floating start, the second-place finish by this crew would have been enough to advance. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. While they may be disappointed, this women's novice crew is similar to the men's in that it has a ton of potential."

Also racing for Ramirez was the women's Varsity 8 rowed by Yeager, Nina McHugh, Opalenski, Molly McKeogh, Caitlin Haskins, Katherine Simoncini, Michelle Ernst, Krieger-Redwood, and Drennan. The boat ended up taking fifth in its heat and was unable to advance. "This crew needs to step it up," said Yaeger. "We need to have a good eight if we wish to be successful."

The Greyhounds will be back in action on Sunday at the Jesuit Invitational.