Men's Rowing Races in SIRAs
April 21, 2003
OAK RIDGE, TN - The GW Men's Rowing team competed in the 2,000 meter Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) Championships Saturday and Sunday at Oak Ridge, TN. The GW Novice Eight, Second Varsity Eight and Varsity Eight each made solid showings and served notice to all crews at SIRA's that the Colonials' program is improving.
The Novice Eight won their first heat easily and continued to their semifinal on Saturday morning. They are rowing a different lineup this week so every race gives them a chance to develop as a crew. After their performance in the heat, it appeared as if they were coming together nicely. In the semi, however, they came up against a very talented Marietta crew which led from start to finish. Marietta proved to be the crew to beat and everyone was preparing to make a run at them in the Grand Final. Delaware, North Carolina, Purdue, GW, Virginia and Marietta comprised the grand final. The Colonials novice came off the line fast and held a slim lead at the 500-meter point. They faltered through the crucial middle 1000 meters of the race and were passed by Marietta, Purdue and Virginia. With only 500 meters left in the race, GW sat in fourth place, just out of the medals. Coxswain Kate Hobart (Watertown, CT/Kent School) urged on her rowers and their sprint proved to be the difference as they were able to catch and pass Virginia just before the finish line for third place.
"It was not the best rowing that we think they are capable of so they will continue to work toward the boat speed that is expected of them," said GW novice coach Jim O'Connor. "This crew showed a lot of guts in the Grand Final and that is something to build on."
The Second Varsity would only be rowing a heat and final, which means they had one less race to get their boat moving at top speed. They did well in their heat, finishing in the top three and moving on to the Grand Final. They still felt like they had room for improvement in the final, and they knew they would need to make those improvements to leave Oak Ridge with a medal. With fast competition from Virginia, Purdue and Marietta, the Colonials had their work cut out for them. In the final, stroke Anthony Cipriano (Philadelphia, PA/Central), led his crew down the race course at 36 strokes per minute, two strokes faster than normal. His determination was the catalyst for his crew as they edged Purdue by a slim margin for third place.
"I think this performance will help them as they train now for the Duel and their match against Georgetown," GW coach Matt Boyle said.
The GW Varsity Eight qualified for the Grand Final by winning their heat and semifinal. They set out for the Final knowing that there were several crews who could take the Gold medal. They faced competition from Purdue, Georgia Tech, Virginia and defending champion, Marietta. Marietta pulled out to an early lead at the start, leaving the field to fight for second place. As the race entered the midway point, Marietta had a commanding lead and GW made a push to get even with Marietta and break away from the other crews in the pack. This crucial move was effective, as GW in fact separated themselves from the field and pulled closer to Marietta.
As the crews entered the last 500 meters of the race, Marietta pulled out again, forcing GW to start their sprint for the finish line earlier than they had planned. It was an exhilarating finish, with both crews sprinting in an all-out effort to get across the line first. The Colonials' poor start came back to haunt them as Marietta crossed the line in 5:48.0, with GW finishing in 5:48.6.
"It was a disappointing finish for us," Boyle said. "The crew gave a good effort but they will have to learn how to win those close races if they want to do well against the top competition."
Men's Rowing relies primarily on 'walk-on' athletes. Interested freshmen are encouraged to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to join the team.