May 11, 2008
Baltimore, Md. - Most of the Loyola Rowing Team ended their season Saturday at the Dad Vails Regatta, the largest collegiate championship in the United States. With over 100 colleges and Universities from the U.S. and Canada, thousands of student athletes were competing on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The competition was fierce and tight races against crews from other regions were the norm.
The Greyhounds were entered in five categories: Men's and Women's pairs, Men's Lightweight 4, Women's Varsity 8, and the Mens Varsity 8. The Hounds' best 32 athletes and two good spares arrived with high hopes of advancing to the prestigious finals on Saturday--or at least as far as the last year's crews. To accomplish that Loyola rowers needed to leave nothing but our best performances of the year on the river.
Conditions Friday were rainy, cold and windy-leaving athletes shivering on the course as the winds complicated and delayed the race starts time and again throughout the day.
The men's pair of Tom Bellew and Maciej Owsianny advanced to the semi finals of their event in one race by finishing second in their first round heat. They felt that with steering improvements and a better start they might advance to the Grand Final, last achieved in 02-03. They battled for second with an large and impressive crew from St Thomas, but ended up falling just short of advancement when they misjudged the finish line and lost the final sprint. Not a bad finish as the St. Thomas ended up 5th in the Grand final.
The women's pair of Michelle Ernst and Katherine Simoncini lost to Toronto, but were able to cruise into their semi-final as well, ahead of Iona College. They ended up falling off pace despite a respectable row in the semis. Finishing 4th in the semi to NYU, Grand Valley, and Jacksonville ended their second day of racing early.
The men's light 4 was crewed by seniors Matt Spalluzzi, Jon Searls, sophomore Dan Keenan, and Frosh Mike Mikula. They had a very fast race in their initial heat, shooting for second and getting it with a furious sprint against St Josephs, Washington, Florida Tech, and American.
The Light 4 ended their run on saturday morning, rowing a much better and faster race, but still falling short to Duquesne by just 0.76 seconds and to St Josephs by 6.1 seconds. As a consolation, the crew learned their time of 6:37.94 was 10.5 seconds faster than their initial race in the heats.
The women's varsity 8, (Drennan,Yaeger, McDermott, Fregeau, McHugh, Marsicovetere, Duval Carter, Staub) racing the same line-up as the previous week, lined up in their first heat against eventual silver-medalists Cal State Sacramento and 9th place UConn among 3 others. They could not best this top seeded pair, and thus ended up racing the second round repechage heat against conference rival Marist, and Robert Morris University, who finished one position up on us at the Mid-atlantic Championship last week.
Knowing that it would take help from Marist to advance to the next round, Coach Al Ramirez told them to focus only on the best execution possible and let the results take care of themselves. In the end, the hounds finished third, but a happy third.
About the race, Coach Ramirez said "We fell short of advancement to the semifinal, but the 9 women left the race knowing they put out their best race of the year at the key moment. Thanks to their gritty effort against long odds we raced at the top of our ability and have a great race to be proud of. Many people don't realize the number of top programs and athletes that compete against us here, but at the Dad Vails, we face some of the best scholarship and big-school teams in the country."
The men's varsity 8 (Dalton, Marsicovetere, Hesse, Miano, Kishur, Delany, Reardon, Reichenbach, Vitanovec) showed up ready to prove themselves as one of the top 10 crews at the regatta, especially following the disappointing loss last week. Despite their best efforts and the incredible times turned in by the Loyola men, they were not able to negotiate this year's `unique' progression and ended their weekend in the second round heats.
Coach Ramirez said "the repechage heat was definitely a bittersweet event for us. The race against BC, Rochester and San Diego was a fantastic challenge. It was grand final worthy for sure--four boats dead even for 1700 meters at peak effort caped off by a desperate sprint to the finish to separate the crews by the slightest of margins--you can't ask for better racing!"
"Losing by 2 seconds in the sprint after 1700 meters of left us wondering just how fast we need to go to crack the top 10 at this regatta. Our on-board computer said we were hitting 1:14 500 meter splits at 39 strokes per minute in the beginning of the race, averaging 1:27 per 500 meter split and finished the 2K in 5:41, the posted race time was 5:48."
"The varsity 8 men were a full 10-11 seconds faster than Loyola was last year, and it still wasn't enough! Dropping almost 2 seconds to BC and University of San Diego in the sprint was hard to stomach, but we put out all we had-no regrets from anyone."
Seeing that regional heavyweight powerhouses like St. Josephs and Delaware and Drexel had the same 2" gap behind USD even into the Petite Final gave the rowers some encouragement.
"Our program is much faster but we can't wait to race at IRA's now and really prove it," said Ramirez