The Hoos Head South

SIRA 2013Virginia raced at the first major championship of the spring season this weekend: the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, in Oak Ridge, TN. Of the six crews that raced for UVa (V8, JV8, 3V8, N8, V4, VL4), three won silver medals, and two won gold. Those 37 VRA athletes brought home three trophies as well, including the Men’s Event Championship trophy.

Despite missing one of its best rowers due to injury, the novice 8 (C: Alex Yang, S: Andrew Heinzman, 7: Alex Pilewski, 6: Scott Helgeson, 5:Isaac Mackey, 4: Ian Crouse, 3: Justin Deaver, 2: Kian Ivey, B: John Evans) had little trouble advancing through its heat and semifinal. In the grand final, UVa battled a strong George Washington freshmen crew, while opening up a healthy margin on the rest of the field. The novices took silver, and they return to Charlottesville determined to reach their full speed in time for the Dad Vail Regatta.

The varsity lightweight 4 (C: Lindsay Sackellares, S: John McNulty, 3: Bert Udler, 2: Elliott Oakley, B: Edwin Nieves) also cruised through their heat and semifinal, and used a relentless base rhythm to steadily pull away from the field in the grand final. The crew took the gold medal in a time of 6:51.9 in slow conditions. Congrats to the “sticks”!

The JV8 (C: Sarah Zillioux, S: Will Courtney, 7: Charlie Hanley, 6: Ian Feeney, 5: Gage Wells, 4: Sean Watson, 3: Dylan Staples, 2: Peter Malm, B: Ed Crocker) was the class of the field. They easily advanced straight to the grand final after their Saturday heat. Once in the final, the crew quickly erased any doubt as to who would take home the trophy. They finished eight seconds ahead of silver medalist Purdue.

The varsity 4 (C: Charlene Friel, S: Sam Kush, 3: Alfred Hubbard, 2: Matt Schilling, B: Thom Hammond) faced the deepest field at the regatta. 35 crews battled for the SIRA championship, and an exceptionally fast FIT crew (with two U23 national team rowers) blazed to a finish time of 6:33.7. The Hoos hung tough and beat out Rollins’ best four rowers to bring home the silver medal. Congrats to the varsity 4!

The varsity 8 (C: Katie Garrity, S: John Furlong, 7: Scott Stuard, 6: Perry Cox, 5: Ty Saitta, 4: Garrett Thomas, 3: Steven Lee-Kramer, 2: Forrest Brown, B: Ben Hammond) battled an internationally seasoned FIT crew in one of the fastest grand finals in SIRA history. FIT has a nearly world-class start, and they jumped out on the field early. Both UVa and GW battled back, and UVa never lost contact. The Wahoos uncorked an insane sprint, pulling out to open water ahead of GW, and finishing about 2/3 of a length behind FIT. It was a spectacular race. The UVa crew is, of course, supremely motivated for the Dad Vail regatta, where they will face FIT again, and where story lines for all of the top crews will create terrific drama.

Start making plans for a trip to Philadelphia now! Dates for the Dad Vail Regatta are May 10-11.

As always, a large contingent of parents attended the regatta and (again, as always) had a great time. Many thanks go them for taking care of the athletes at the venue site. Special thanks go out to John Saitta for handling dinner plans for the team on both Friday and Saturday nights. Thanks, Mayor!

View video footage of the race below.