May 17, 2005
Philadelphia, Pa. - The men's varsity eight boat, rowing in its first Dad Vails Regatta in five years, was one of three Loyola crews to advance to the semifinals at the East Coast's premier spring racing event held this past weekend on the Schuylkill River.
In a display that signaled the "return" of Greyhound men's rowing, according to head coach Al Ramirez, the men's varsity eight shocked physically dominant crews in Michigan State and Kansas and finished two seconds behind eventual grand finalist, Temple, to take third place and advance to the semifinals.
Manned by a crew that included one freshman and five sophomores in addition to its experienced stroke pair of Will Farrell and Rob Von Hagen, the boat was unable to produce its best race in the semis and was eliminated by eventual winner Michigan as well as Minnesota, Army, and Lehigh.
Loyola's women's varsity eight also advanced to the semifinal round of racing with a crew that included two recently added freshman rowers. Their second round of racing was thrilling as they overcame crews from Santa Clara and Marquette to advance with Fordham and Vermont for a shot at the finals.
In the semis however, the young crew that was led by sophomore Lauren Opalenski, raced hard, but was also unable to reproduce its sharpest form and intensity. The `Hounds were eliminated by the eventual gold and silver medalists, UConn and Eastern Michigan, respectively, and Bucknell and Dayton, who finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the B-final that afternoon.
During Friday's first race of the day, Greyhound sophomore stroke Liz Gunner and junior pair veteran, Liz McDowell, raced to a comfortable win in their first round heat. They beat small boat specialist, Bowdoin, along with Iona, Alabama and Tennessee. In the semifinal heat, the pair pushed hard, but finished seven seconds from advancing after catching a small crab just meters from the finish line and fell to a team from Oklahoma City, the eventual bronze medalist and Chicago.
Loyola's other the three boats that raced at Dad Vails were eliminated, but all rowed well, each coming within one boat length from advancement.
In the women's novice eight, the crew had a slightly different lineup due to Lauren Corcoran and Nikki Yaeger being promoted to the varsity 8 for the last two races of the season, and injuries to bow seat Chris Drennan, who moved into the coxswain's seat. Stroked by Michelle Ernst again, they put out their best effort, but came up a little short. The Greyhounds had a tough heat in a race that included 36 of the best novice eight's in the country. In the end, Loyola was 19 seconds from advancing to the semifinal round as they fell to Purdue, UC-Santa Barbara, and Delaware.
Loyola's novice men's four, which was led by Jon Searls and captain, Zach Reichenbach, came in 5th after narrowly losing to Villanova and Northwestern in a stacked field that included nine boats per heat with only two advancing from each heat.
The Greyhound lightweight men's eight was led by freshman Dave Rock and included freshman Brian Scott, sophomore Nick Kiniry, and junior Mike Faherty. Needing a third-place finish to advance, the crew came in fourth place by just over three seconds to Georgia.