Small Boats Result In Big Finishes For Crew Team At Occoquan Sprints

April 6, 2009

FAIRFAX, VA. - The Loyola College crew teams continues to make great strides heading into the MAAC Championships at the end of April. On Saturday, they participated in the Ocoquan Springs Regatta at the Ocoquan Regatta and had stellar showings from both squads, including two first-place finishes by the women and one by the men's varsity fours.

In the day's first race, Loyola's novice women had a chance to avenge a previous loss to Georgetown in the novice 8 after two weeks of practice. The Greyhounds improved by six seconds, but fell short of the win.

The Novice women's 8, led by Julianne Roccuzzo and Kim Wniarczyk, qualified for the grand final , then returned two races later to take a solid third place behind Georgetown's and George Mason's well-stocked boats. The Hounds convincingly topped Mary Washington, William and Mary and Richard Stockton.

The varsity women's 4 earned first-place honors, coming from behind with 750 meters to go to take the win over a tough William and Mary Tribe crew. Their time was the fastest recorded two women's four's races by 3.5 seconds.

The novice four, stroked by Catriona Miller, nipped Catholic by 1.4 seconds for the gold., also topping William and Mary and three others in a very exciting race.

Almost immediately after the women's Fours and Novice 8 finals the `Hounds raced the grand final of the premier women's race with a composite "Varsity" 8 boat of four novices and four varsity vets.

Despite the fatigue from prior finals, the untested lineup raced respectably against fresh crews from host George Mason, Mary Washington, and a deep Lehigh crew. Although the race had its problems, the coaches were satisfied with the 4.8 second loss to Lehigh.

"Given the circumstances -racing against very good crews with a young, new lineup and a fatigued crew- the end result was encouraging and showed promise," said Loyola Head Coach Al Ramirez.

"If this group can buckle down and focus for another year, they absolutely have the potential to win some D1 races."

On the men's side, the varsity four, led by Nick Miano and bowed by newcomer Sean Baker ,won gold over St Mary's, George Mason, Rutgers Camden and UNC Wilmington.

The men's light 4 raced a new lineup that included two freshmen, but lost a tight duel with American by six seconds. Sophomores Josh Tarini and Zuri Malick said that they can find more speed, but need to respond to attacks more effectively.

The Men's novice four raced well to a silver medal behind Virginia. And the men's pairs raced to gold and silver medals against Virginia .

"The best racing for a men's final in years" was how the Occoquan race director happily described this battle of the fastest, strongest boats at the river. For a third week in a row, the Men's varsity 8 qualified for the grand final, facing great crews from Virginia, Lehigh, George Mason, Mary Washington and William and Mary. All boats raced side by side at full intensity for the length of the 2000-meter race- course. At the finish line, the first five places were separated by only five seconds.

Lehigh ultimately edged out a 1.98 second lead over the Hounds to take the win. Loyola led George Mason by 1.9 seconds, who, in turn, led Virginia by 1.4 seconds.

"We did quite well despite the strain of multiple race efforts during the day. This is the type of racing that has fuels our grueling winter training -the feeling of being at your physical limits and continuing on only because your opponent is continuing on," said Ramirez.

"The kids love the tight racing and want to come out on top do the work, and pay up front in sweat. I hope we can make up the tiny differences between us, Bucknell and Lehigh soon, but it seems that whichever crew is sharpest in the moment can take the win at this point."