Spotlight on: Club crew
Washington University Crew still has two more regattas before the season ends, but both the men’s and women’s teams have raced successfully over the 2007-2008 school year.
On March 30, the team traveled to Butler, Pa. for the 2008 University Rowing Association (URA) Championship Regatta, hosted by Carnegie Mellon University. Wash. U. and the University of Rochester finished first and second in both the male and female competition, with the Bears winning the men’s competition and the Yellowjackets winning the women’s regatta. The second-place finish snapped the women’s two-year winning streak while the men pushed their streak to three years.
“The past two years, we dominated most events and came in first place as a team, but this year has been tough because of a loss in the number of rowers and increase in rowers with injuries,” Cally Donahue, a senior and co-captain, said about the women’s team.
“URAs are a unique event for us because we race against other teams from the UAA conference. This gives us the best perspective on our performance measured against schools of our caliber. The other schools that compete in the URAs are all club teams in which the athletes manage similar, academically-rigorous programs. Our performance at URAs this year demonstrate our abilities as a team, winning, I believe, four gold medals and three cups, including the overall points trophy,” Ryan Whelpley, a senior and co-captain, said.
This past weekend, the team competed in the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) Championship Regatta against 28 other teams, 17 of which were also club teams. The men won two gold medals in the Men’s Lightweight Four and Men’s Novice Lightweight Four events.
“Our team has surpassed all expectations and goals I had set for the men’s team at the start of the year. The vast majority of athletes scored personal records this winter on rowing machines. Winning URAs for the third year in a row accomplished a large goal, and winning two gold medals at SIRAs this year is unprecedented. Additionally to this point, the men’s team has won five different cups, something that has never been done in my time here,” Whelpley added.
The women reached one final, capturing fifth in the Varsity Eight.
“We have overcome a lot of difficulties and injuries… We are performing very well against our competition. We have a strong team this year that works very hard and has been very successful,” senior co-captain Ashley Lozito said.
Overall, Purdue University captured the most points in the regatta, followed by Jacksonville Tech and Georgia Tech.
Crew returns to action May 11 at the Dad Vails Regatta in Philadelphia, Pa., a regatta for which many athletes are practicing twice a day, according to Whelpley. Whelpley expects the team to compete with the rest of the field but does not expect to medal at Dad Vails, noting that the team cannot and should not be able to contend with powerhouses like Purdue. These larger teams can compete in many more events since each rower is only allowed to participate in one event.
Whelpley added, “Even though we do not have the amount of numbers, we still can compete on the same level.”
Following Dad Vails, the team will finish the season at the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships in Oklahoma City on May 24 and 25.
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