Varsity Eights Lead Loyola At Occoquan Sprints

The Loyola men's and women's crew teams competed at the George Mason Occoquan Sprints on Sunday afternoon. Despite having a smaller and younger roster this year, the 'Hounds were impressive in sending a message that they have come to race for the win.

Loyola's flagship squads, the men's and women's varsity 8's, essentially the first string line-ups for the whole team, put down impressive heats and finals to return to the Evergreen wearing Gold and Silver, respectively against strong fields.

The Men's 8, led by Devin Marsicovetere for the third year, and returning from a tough week of illness, injury, and hard Saturday races, displayed competitive cool in their heat. They then charged out to the lead in the Grand Final, leading very strong crews from George Mason and Hopkins to the line in 5:51.3. They topped a list of 12 crews from Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Florida. They hope to continue improving their speed in attempt to reach a final at the Dad Vails National Collegiate Championship.

The women led by seniors Chris Drennan and Nikki Yaeger rowed a completely revamped line-up from Saturday's races-- one filled with smaller-framed 2nd year talent. Although relatively undersized, the Hounds got a feel for their strengths and weaknesses in their heat--finishing third--then dropped the hammer on 7 other crews in the Grand final to take a Silver medal behind a fast George Mason 8. They improved their heat time by 5.2 seconds (6:54.3) by analyzing their boatspeed via a boat-mounted speed computer and changing their race strategy. In the end, they fought off a hard charging William and Mary Crew to take the win by 0.7 seconds. Their impressive efforts through the 3rd and 4th quarter of the races were a great improvement over the heat and a real crowd-pleaser in the grandstands", said Coach Ramirez

Also having successes were the teams heavyweight men's and women's fours. 3 new line-ups resulted in 3 strong second place finishes.

One varsity men's four, stroked by Tom Bellew started their race in last place after a particularly bad start, then spent 1800 meters chasing down Duke, passing them handily for a comfortable 2nd to North Carolina State. The other men's crew led by Nick Miano lost to Washington College but beat crews times from Duke, Old DOminion, George Mason and others.

The women's varsity 4 , led by senior Michelle Ernst, and backed up by senior Katherine Simoncini, and two sophomores, finished a strong second behind Washington College. Their time was only 6 seconds behind the fastest women's time posted. This result was very solid as Washington College chose to prioritize the fours race instead of their nationally ranked (15th) women 8. Usually teams put their top 8 athletes in the 8's race.

The coaches were pleasantly surprised that the team showed so well, and look forwards to the challenge of maintaining the team's lead over a field of talented and tenacious Midatlantic rivals through the Spring Championship in May.

"It's still early in the season, and today's well earned successes will go a long way towards energizing our team for the hard training ahead. Although the long hours of winter training are now being rewarded, now we have a target on our backs and that is a tough spot to be in for young crews. We won't be resting on our laurels come Tuesday morning." said Coach Al Ramirez