The Drexel Dragons climbed to the top of the Dad Vail mountain on Saturday, winning the varsity 8 and freshmen 8 events, and claiming the silver medal in the JV8 event. Virginia was unable to stop them, though the Wahoos gave it everything they had.
Saturday’s racing began with the single’s, pairs’, and heavyweight 4’s semifinals. The Virginia boats raced hard, but were unable to qualify for their respective grand finals. The fields were simply too deep, as many programs boated their top rowers for these events.
The novice 8 had an easy time of their heat and semifinal, setting up a second meeting with Drexel, who beat the Hoos by three seconds at the Murphy Cup. The Hoos had a great first 1000 meters in the final, and briefly led the race around the 1100-meter mark. The Dragons were too strong, however, and they pulled away from the Hoos, winning by about 4 seconds. Virginia’s novices finished seven seconds ahead of third-place Michigan—a solid performance, though disappointing. The novices were hoping to become the first Virginia novice crew to win gold at the Dad Vail Regatta. In the end, they settled for earning Virginia’s first silver medal since 1991.
The JV8 was next on the schedule. After cruising through their Friday heat, they faced a fast field in the final. Michigan, just like last year, showed their considerable depth, beating second-place Drexel by two seconds. Drexel bested the third-place Wahoos by an additional six seconds. The Wahoos picked up a bronze medal, matching last year’s finish.
The varsity 8 was surprised by Drexel in the semifinal, who won by four seconds. The second-place finish put the Hoos in lane 1 for the grand final, which, again, was a clear disadvantage. As a side note, the state of Michigan boasted three crews (Grand Valley, Michigan State, and Michigan) in the varsity 8 grand final.
Virginia’s 8 had a great start, beating even F.I.T. off the line. It turned out, however, that Drexel’s semifinal speed was no fluke. They pulled ahead of the field, winning the grand final by two seconds over the biggest surprise crew of the season, Michigan State. MSU finished second, ahead of F.I.T., who claimed the bronze medal. Virginia finished sixth, behind ACRA rivals Michigan and Grand Valley.
Virginia’s final championship regatta of the season is the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championship, in Gainesville, GA. The Hoos are in the thick of training, unencumbered by exams and missed practices, and they’re extremely eager to finish at the top of the ACRA heap.
There are still hotel rooms available for parents in Gainesville. E-mail Chris Malm for information.