April 14, 2009
Cherry Hill, N.J. - In a notable weekend of strong performances, the Loyola crew teams racked up a gold medal, a bronze medal, four grand final berths and two petite final berths over the weekend at the Knecht Cup Regatta. The performance marked the best-ever for the rowing Hounds at the event, which took place on the Cooper River.
The regatta was an important benchmark for Loyola, as it allowed the team to qualify for various championship regattas. The Knecht Cup also provided the opportunity to earn a top seed at the Dad Vail Championship.
The day got off to a shaky beginning on Friday, as both the men's and women's pairs were eliminated from advancement in the early morning. The Novice fours and Varsity Fours soon brought confident smiles back to the team though, as the novice women's four-led by Julianne Roccuzzo-won their heat, while the novice men's four-led by Ryan Jordan-advanced with a fine, third-place row.
The Women's lightweight four -led by freshman Kim Winiarczyk, won their heat over Tulsa, UMass and Villanova and advanced to the first grand final of Saturday. They ended up beating Tulsa again in the final for the bronze, but fell to fast crews from Pitt and Lafayette.
The Women's Varsity four, led by Kelly McDermott, followed suit by winning their heat and advancing to a tough semi-final race. They led for the majority of the heat against Philadelphia, Temple, URI and Robert Morris. Their semifinal pitted them against UMass and Villanova as well as URI and they finished third, taking the last grand final from host Villanova. In the Grand final, they faced Tulsa, Philadelphia Old Dominion and West Virginia, and lost again to UMass to take sixth-place.
The men's varsity four, led by Devin Marsicovetere, led their heat easily and qualified for the second grand final of Saturday. Qualifying for a grand final while conserving as much energy as possible for their varsity 8 races was tricky, but the four managed. In their Grand final they raced a determined Mercyhurst four that rowed at higher stroke rate the whole race.
Finishing in second , far ahead of rivals Colgate Philadelphia and Penn State, the Hounds were impressed by the endurance of the lighter Mercyhurst opponents. The group was happy to earn the silver, unwilling to burn energy that might compromise their efforts to make the grand final of the varsity 8.
The men's Novice 8 did not have a great first race but brought their boat back together well for their semifinal attempt. Although they rowed a bit lower stroke rate than their competition in that semifinal against, they advanced to the petite final. They ended up third in the petite final by less than 5 seconds to Marietta and Delaware, beating Lehigh, Lafayette, and Boston College.
The Men's varsity 8 came to the regatta eager to best their 9th of 18 seeding, and race well against St Joseph's , Bucknell and some of the successful IRA teams from up North.
"It was an important race for us" said Head Coach Al Ramirez, "but we came here to race more than one event and still perform well in the 8. Patience, discipline and experienced smart racing were key to helping us achieve good races in the 8 finals."
At the end of the weekend, the semifinal turned out to be a very tight drag race between all six crews vying for the top three slots. After leading the pack at the 1000, the 'Hounds had trouble ahead of very impressive crews from St Joe's, Bucknell, and Rutgers from 1250 to 1650 meters and spent the last 350 meters trying vainly to get back into the top three. They held fourth.
The petite race went much better for Loyola, as it entered the last third of the race even but still lost to a very fired-up Lehigh crew by 0.8 seconds. The pressure of racing such a tight final allowed their time to be comparably faster with Virginia, Rutgers and Bucknell's efforts in the grand final. That thought will keep the Greyhounds pressing hard and bodes well for the upcoming races, said Ramirez.
We've come a long way from my first Knecht cup regatta in 2002" (when the team had been eliminated from the competition by 10:45 am on the first day of competition)," Ramirez noted.
"It has been a slow but steady climb for the team as a whole to get to this point, and the men's heavies have really earned their status here racing against very high quality teams. The racers should be quite proud of their efforts this weekend and use this experience to propel us even further at the championships coming up over the next three weeks."
On Monday, the Loyola women's novice 4 was nominated for the row2k 'Team of the Week' for April 14. The group, as noted above, won their event at the Knecht Cup by seven seconds after having never placed a crew in the the Knecht Cup Grand Finals. The coxswain and three out of four of the rowers are novice.
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