April 18-19, Oak Ridge, TN
VRA retained the men’s team point trophy at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships today. Many of the familiar fast opponents were back again (George Washington, FIT, Temple) with several surprises (Wichita State and Georgia Tech, for instance) thrown into the mix.
At last year’s SIRA championships, the novices did not field a 4+ at all. This year both the 1st novice 4 (C Sam Needham, 4 Will Lewitus, 3 Willie Nuckols, 2 Ryan Cheng, B Xavier Quinn) and the 2nd novice 4 (C Ellie Coles, 4 Andrew Anderson, 3 Conner Healy, 2 Max Ober, 1 Bryan Pfirrmann) advanced out of a field of 18 to make the grand final. In the grand final, the 2N4 were unable to find their strong rhythm from the heat and semis, and they finished 6th. The 1N4, however, used an excellent start in the final to jump ahead of the field and ultimately take the gold medal by 8 seconds. It was a great start to the day.
The varsity 4 (C Jake Power, 4 Jeff Young, 3 Chris Pena, 2 Evan Dennis, B Eddie Tiernan) finished just 3/10 of a second behind Washington University in their semifinal. In the final, they finished sixth—a bit of a disappointment, but also a respectable result in an extremely competitive event by a crew that included three 4th year athletes in their final SIRA regatta.
The 2nd varsity 8 (C Dan Schwartz, 8 Edwin Nieves, 7 Alfred Hubbard, 6 Mike Becker, 5 Perry Cox, 4 Matt Schilling, 3 Ian Crouse, 2 Justin Deaver, 1 Sam Kush) had a strong start and lead all crews by 2 seats through the 500 in their grand final. FIT caught a crab, which left GW, Temple, UVa, and the Purdue lightweights in the lead. Unfortunately the Hoos did not have the horsepower/precision to sprint with the leaders in the last 400 meters, and they fell back to fourth.
The 1st novice 8 (C Maggie O’Toole, 8 Keith Casscells-Hamby, 7 Nathan Heinzman, 6 Chris Keeling, 5 Riley Hazard, 4 James Balderston, 3 Thacher Hoch, 2 Sasha Varzari, 1 Chris Mikus) had an easy heat and a very strong semifinal. The Hoos rowed a solid grand final, where they earned the bronze medal, 7 seconds behind GW (as opposed to 18 seconds behind GW the week before). The result marked the 5th straight year that the UVa novices have medalled at SIRAs.
Despite a fast start, the varsity 8 (C Sarah Zillioux, 8 John McNulty, 7 Charlie Hanley, 6 Scott Helgeson, 5 Gage Wells, 4 Garrett Thomas, 3 Ty Saitta, 2 Forrest Brown, B Andrew Heinzman) were half a length down on Temple, FIT, and GW off the start. They took a strong move at 600 meters and closed the gap on both Temple and FIT considerably. They took another move at 1100 meters, dropping Temple and holding position on FIT. By 400 meters to go, GW and FIT were battling each other in a sprint and moved away from Virginia. GW won the race by 5 seconds.
Thanks so much to the Schillings and Saittas for doing all the hard work to set up the food for the athletes at the racecourse on both days, as well as dinner at the hotel on Friday night. It is an huge load off the coaches’ minds to know that this part of the overall program is always in good hands.
Next on the racing schedule: the Dad Vail Championships, in Philadelphia. Lots to do over the next three weeks. Go Hoos!