June 5, 2008
Cherry Hill, N.J. - The Loyola men's crew team advanced both of its boats to the second round of the IRA National Championship Regatta on Thursday. The Greyhounds raced their men's pair and their Varsity 4 with Coxswain on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J.
The men's pair of Jack Vitanovec and Thomas Bellew raced first. In the pair progression, the first place heat winner would advance to the grand final while the rest raced again in round 2 on Friday to determine the second and third level finals on Saturday.
The pair played their cards a little too conservatively at the start, coming off the line in fourth place. Soon finding their base rhythm after a strong starting sprint, they clawed their way into second place behind Harvard by the end of the first 500 meters, dueling with Loyola Marymount of California. Unable to overcome the strong lead of Harvard by the 800-meter mark, the crew tested out their relative speed versus the other crews only briefly before wisely opting to conserve energy for Friday and Saturday's racing. They cruised to a casual third over Brown and Yale, who also opted to save energy for future rounds.
The Pair will race against Rutgers and Navy on Friday morning for a single available spot in the Grand final. Due to their first race result they will fall no lower than the second or "Petite" final on Saturday. The only problems the crew had were some slight steering issues that can be corrected relatively easily. Being such a sensitive and touchy boat design, the "pair" responds dramatically to any rowing errors. One of the rowers must use a toe-mounted steering cable to make the slight course adjustments for wind or imperfect technique. In fact, the heat prior to Loyola's had so many steering issues in it that it seemed all 6 lanes of boats finished in the same single lane, which is 12 meters wide.
The Men's four (Marsicovetere, Hesse, Kishur, Reichenbach, Dalton-cox) had a fairly successful time trial against a field of 24 of the country's best fours. Seeded 20th, the crew rowed a solid race to tie with Washington State University (of the Pac-10) for 18th in 5:53.5.
Their finish was 0.8 seconds behind Delaware, 1.4 seconds back from Rochester and 2 seconds behind Navy and Minnesota. Amazingly there was also a tie for 10th place between Yale and Lehigh only 5 seconds ahead of the Hounds. Averaging 1:37.1 per 500m for the race, the rowers felt that they performed well and were pleased. They did admit that there was about 350 meters where they fell slightly off their pace. The Hounds will look to close that door as they compete Friday for a third final berth on Saturday.
The Hounds race Michigan, Navy, Minnesota, Washington State and Boston University at 2:24 Friday afternoon to determine their fate. They must finish at least 3rd to advance.