May 3, 2004
PHILADELPHIA, PA - Loyola's men's and women's crews followed up their stellar performances at last week's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships with an outstanding showing at Sunday's Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Crew Championships held on the Schuylkill River.
Battling against the hot sun, the Greyhound women's varsity-eight showed why it was named one of the ECAC's Crews of the Week last week as Loyola endured a lineup change to take the silver medal. The crew added some more speed, but risked a lack of familiarity and a possible break in "swing" with the lineup change heading into this pressure-packed race.
Needing to defeat Virginia Tech for a possible bid to the ECAC National Invitational Regatta, while at the same time handling the rest of a loaded field, Loyola jumped out to a strong second place behind Drexel. The Greyhounds held on until the last 350 meters where Drexel took a six-seat lead. But, Loyola put together a good sprint to get back within one seat. At that time, the Dragons started their final push to barely edge Loyola by 0.3 seconds.
Head Coach Al Ramirez's squad did what it needed to do though as it beat Virginia Tech as well as Bucknell and LaSalle to row its way into next week's Dad Vail Regatta with lots of confidence.
The Greyhound men's novice-8, stroked by Kevin Dwyer, was the most successful crew of the day for Loyola as it brought home the first novice-eight championship to Evergreen in recent history.
"Today's novice-eight performance proves that the men's freshmen team, which did not exist at all in 2002, is solidly back in town," said Ramirez after the race.
This crew displayed its youthful exuberance early by charging to a commanding first place finish in the preliminary rounds at 37 strokes per minute, despite the fact that they only needed to finish in the top-three to advance. Luckily, the 'Hounds still had some energy left for the grand final. Rowing with a stiff tail-wind, the crew rowed the 2,000-meter course eight seconds faster than they rowed it in the preliminaries, to secure the gold medal ahead of Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech, and George Mason, among others.
Loyola's women's varsity-pair, which featured sophomores Jenny Sohn and Liz Macdowell rowing their first race together, made about as good of a debut as one could possibly imagine as the two rowed to a silver medal.
"They surprised themselves with a very good course and a good wire-to-wire second place performance in the final as they finished behind Carnegie Mellon and ahead of Mary Washington and Bucknell," said Ramirez.
The men's varsity-four, stroked by Rob Von Hagen, raced hard against a tough field of 18. They fought off strong last-minute challenges from Bucknell and William and Mary College to finish second in their heat, behind only the eventual gold medalists from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. In the grand final, Loyola finished 6th of 18 and raced hard, but never quite found a unified team swing. This boat will race again Friday morning at the Dad Vails Regatta.
Loyola's men's novice-four boat failed to make the grand final after a shoe tore loose from the vessel mid-race, but Conor Mulroe managed to stroke the squad to a fifth place finish in the petite final.
The Greyhound women fielded a game novice-eight against a field of 10. Stroked by Katie Sheridan, Loyola qualified for the grand final after finishing second in their heat, despite being interfered with by Bucknell. In the grand final, Loyola finished fifth behind very solid crews from Mary Washington, Virginia Tech, and Bucknell. The novice women will race their top four members in the Dad Vails next weekend.