Crew Stays Strong At Mid-Atlantic Championships

May 4, 2008

Baltimore, Md. - Sunday the rowing team continued their championship series at the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Crew Championships. Competing in 6 select events, the Rowing Hounds brought home gold medals in 2 events and Silver medals in 2 events. Conditions were sunny but with strong headwinds that increased during the day. Coach Ramirez was pleased with our winning results but a tiny bit nervous about how we'll react to the pressures of even faster crews next weekend"

Starting off the day strongly was the men's novice four of Mike Mikula, Josh Tarini, Zuri Malick and Sean Baker. They advanced easily in their heat over Maryland, Penn State, Dusquesne, and VCU. and ended up taking the grand final in dramatic fashion. The hounds were second heading into the final 400 meters and took the stroke rate up to charge past Maryland, who had the lead but was not accelerating for the line. Using their sprinting ability the Hounds pulled up next to the Maryland boat, but the Terps suddenly cut into Loyola's lane, blocking further advancement. The finish was protested at the finish line and the referees ruled in Loyola's favor.

The men's pair of Maciej Owsianny and Tom Bellew, racing together for the first time, was able to claim silver over a field that included UMBC, Penn State, William and Mary, SUNY maritime. Although they had some steering problems they were able to right themselves enough to pull through the field, and then ahead of the field after building a deficit during the first 500 meters.

The Women's pair of Michelle Ernst and Katherine Simoncini also raced to a relatively easy Gold medal finish after a grueling week of boat selection, and practicing steering with the new combo.

The Men's light four, led by seniors Matt Spalluzzi and Jon Searls raced hard but were unable to come up with a solid finish in the Grand final after getting 3rd in their heat.

According to Coach Ramirez: "Our small boats did a very good job, especially considering the newness of the line-ups. We successfully raced many schools that row small boats much of the year and might be more familiar with each other in the more sensitive boats"

The women's 8 Led by senior medal of merit winner Nikki Yaeger, had some technical goals to achieve and one performance goal to meet: our best race of the year. Unfortunately they were unable to execute and bring home the hardware even after very promising practice sessions during the week. "Our women's 8 is definitely capable of much more when we're on our game. I think we just let the multiple weather related distractions and race delays get to us and pull us out of our business zone. Next week we really have to be on our best game for every race if we hope to advance up the ladder." They were beaten by University of Mary Washington, Robert Morris and Fordham, with Fordham giving the instructions on gold-medal racing to the rest of the field.

The men's Varsity 8, started the weekend off ominously as their normal 5-seat rower fell prey to strep throat the night before the championship race. Notifying the crew at 600 in the morning that he was out, we moved Dan Reardon into the center of the boat at 5, and received an exemption to row Tom Bellew as a sub in the 3 seat (as well as in the championship pair--normally race doubling is not allowed). We launched expecting a great battle with Fordham as well as the usual challenge from the always tough host-crew George Mason.

The race started off very well with Loyola using it's power well to take the early lead. Halfway into the race the Loyola coxswain Genevieve Dalton was sitting even with the four seat of the Fordham 8 when Fordham's coxswain suddenly swung their boat into the left side of Loyola's lane. Dalton instinctively moved out of the way to starboard to avoid the collision as the referee directed Fordham to move back to the left, out of the lane, to little effect.

This next sequence of events proved to be our achilles heel as the entire starboard side rowers' oars smashed into the 1000 meter marker buoy as well as the next set of smaller lane marking buoys. Hitting the large foam blocks shook the Hounds out of their focus for a few strokes enough to break the rhythm and allow Fordham to take back the lead. Smartly they then dropped their mid-race power move on the Hounds. Loyola recovered it's composure enough to make up some of the lost ground and charge into the final 500 sprint gaining on Fordham. It was too little too late though as the solid competitors from New York refused to relinquish their lead. Protests of interference from coxswain Genevieve Dalton and stroke Devin Marsicovetere ended futiley on the water and even more futiley on land as the referee following the race refused to support Loyola's claim that the Fordham lane change and resulting buoy collision constituted interference.

Ramirez acknowledged that: "That's racing. When things happen that are out of your control you must be ready to adapt, overcome and get back into the race--It's only slightly like life, right?"

"Although I was not pleased with the decision I was impressed with the great racing put forth by both Fordham and Loyola. I didn't see any great possible outcomes to further protest as the races were already almost an hour behind schedule due to difficult wind conditions on the course, and we were racing with a sub already on his third race. A re-row would not have been a viable race, so we move on. We rowed a very good race and we look forward to the chance to prove ourselves next weekend at Dad Vails."