SIRA 2015


A video recap of the weekend can be found here.

The Hoos were entered in nearly all the major events at this year’s Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, and hopes were high. Both Saturday’s and Sunday’s races were delayed by heavy fog, and lightning threatened to derail the grand finals. The weather held out, though, and the Hoos raced their way into the grand finals of every event they entered. In the end, five crews (the V8, 2V8, N8, N4, and 2X) earned medals, none lower than silver.

The SIRA committee introduced sculling events to the schedule this year, and the Hoos were happy to take part. The men’s 2X (S: Jamie Falter, B: Matt Whitesell) rowed to a strong second-place finish (out of 11 crews) in the Saturday time trial. The weather-shortened Sunday schedule didn’t allow for a grand final, so the crew collected silver medals for their efforts.

Neither the pair, varsity lightweight 4, or varsity 4 won medals, though both 4s crews made their respective grand finals. The lightweight 4 finished 4th (out of 13 total crews), and the heavyweight varsity 4 finished 5th (out of 26 crews). The pair, comprised of two pure novices, rowed a Saturday time trial—finishing 7th out of 13 crews—but the regatta committee was forced to cancel Sunday’s B final due to the bad weather.

The novice 4 (C: Pearl Risberg, S: Calvin Heimberg, 3: Dan Weihs, 2: Tim McMullen, B: Tim Rodriguez), all lightweights, came into the regatta rowing well, and were ready to seize the opportunity to race. Their efficient rowing proved to be the class of the field, as they finished Sunday’s grand final 11 seconds ahead of second-place Central Florida (1st out of 31 crews). Last year’s gold-medal winning novice 4 joked with them that a dynasty was born!

The novice 8 (C: Austin Hall, 8: Zach Heese, 7: Matt Zetkulic, 6: Stephen Hayes, 5: Garret Overholser, 4: Lucas Pienkowski, 3: Neiman Pest, 2: Neal Axelrod-Adams, B: Chris Hastings) had a poor row in their Saturday heat, barely edging a very tough Notre Dame 8. The crew rebounded well in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal, edging Purdue and posting the fastest time of the semifinals. The crew rowed their hearts out in the grand final, leading by ¾ of a length at the 500. In the end, though, they were beaten by just two feet by Temple, earning a silver medal (2nd out of 22 crews). The Hoos were disappointed, of course, but put the loss in perspective when reminded that 20 other crews would give anything to have those silver medals hanging around their necks.

Of all the UVa crews, the 2nd varsity 8 (C: Lindsay Sackellares, S: John McNulty, 7: Riley Hazard, 6: Thacher Hoch, 5: Nathan Heinzman, 4: Xavier Quinn, 3: Ryan Cheng, 2: Eddie Tiernan, B: Chris Mikus) had perhaps the best overall performance of the weekend, given that one of their strongest rowers was unable to even travel to Oak Ridge due to illness. The crew had been struggling all spring to put together any strong races at all. Everyone was proud to watch them row not only a fast heat and semifinal, but also a strong grand final on Sunday, finishing 2nd (out of 14 crews total) and bringing home silver medals.

Though the varsity 8 (C: Jake Power, 8: Charley Hanley, 7: Keith Cascells-Hamby, 6: Gage Wells, 5: Scott Helgeson, 4: Perry Cox, 3: Garrett Thomas, 2: Andrew Heinzman, B: Forrest Brown) won both its Saturday heat and semifinal, the crew seemed a bit disappointed with their performances. The guys put it all together on Sunday, however, and had a strong second-place finish (out of 25 crews total), behind the super-quick Florida Tech 8.

The V8’s silver medal was enough to secure the Hoos their second men’s team-points championship in as many years.

The Hoos are now breaking down crews in order to rebuid from the ground up in preparation for the Dad Vail Regatta in three weeks. These three weeks, with both heavy training and studying for final exams, are always a process of discovery and struggle. The guys will need to be at their best.

As always, the team thanks our parents, alumni, and friends for supporting us through it all. Go Hoos Go!