Even after proving itself to be one of the top club crews in the U.S. over the past few years, UVA Rowing earned enough team points at the ACRA championships on Sunday to be named the most-improved program of 2015.
The Hoos arrived in Gainesville, GA, on Wednesday evening, and spent the next two days putting the final touches on the annual taper plan, leaving themselves at their best for the weekend’s racing.
A video recap of the weekend can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/RZ-xFfZmaP8
All but two crews (the B 1X and the varsity 4) qualified for their respective grand finals, and by the end of racing on Sunday, 43 Virginia athletes were wearing medals around their necks.
The singles rowers, both novices (Grant Janart and Jackson Adams), had encouraging results. Grant spent at least 80 percent of the season injured and rehabbing. He was finally able to train for the last three weeks of the season. He put his high school sculling experience to use, earning a 5th place finish in the grand final. Jackson, another oft-injured high school sculler, improved his performances with each race of the weekend, and finished 3rd in the C final, a result he was happy with.
The women’s 2X (Kelli Sill and Ashley Gale) were a pretty inspiring story. They trained with the men all year, though they almost always rowed by themselves on the water (though they were coached on occasion by the great Jack Caan!). The two had no way of knowing how they would stack up against the field at ACRAs, so they were pleasantly surprised when they blew the other doubles away in the grand final, earning a national championship in the process!
The quad, comprised almost entirely of pure novices, was one of the big surprises of the weekend. All of the athletes were new to sculling, taking it up in just the last two weeks of the season. They were persistent, though, putting in extra water sessions in order to get more comfortable in the shell and with each other. Through sheer force of will, they improved dramatically with each row, even through the weekend, and had their best row together in the grand final, earning a silver medal!
The varsity 4 and 2nd V4 trained well in the weeks leading up to ACRAs. The V4, however, competed in a far deeper field, and unfortunately were unable to advance out of their semifinals. The 2V4 had a great grand final, pounding out a strong base rhythm to move ahead of Michigan, finishing second behind Georgia Tech, and earning a silver medal. The third set of medals was thus secured for UVa!
After a strong heat on Saturday, the novice 4 had a fast start in the grand final, pushing out to a length lead. The Army crew began moving on UVa at about 500 meters to go, and the two crews moved away further away from the field as they battled each other. At the finish line, Army was able to poke their bowball ahead by about a foot, stealing the gold away from the Hoos. It was a tough loss, but the guys were still proud to leave Georgia with a silver medal and a place on the podium at the national championships.
The novice 8 made a lot of changes and found good speed in the weeks between the Dad Vail and ACRA regattas. Orange Coast fielded the fastest freshmen crew the OCC coaches could remember, so the real battle was for 2nd place in the grand final. The Hoos had a strong base rhythm and maintained good length at the crucial moments of the race. As a result, they had additional gears to shift, and they were able to push their shell ahead of UCSB by about a third of a length in the sprint, claiming the silver medal.
The 2nd varsity 8 was the top performer of the weekend. They seized control of their grand final right from the start and maintained their poise as Michigan tried to work back through them in the sprint. 4th years Lindsay Sackellares, Charley Hanley, John McNulty, and Xavier Quinn finished their regular-season careers in style, earning an ACRA national championship!
The varsity 8 had both a strong heat and semifinal, finding easy speed with strong rhythms in both races. In the grand finals, Michigan turned on the jets and put the field behind them with a strong move in the third 500. Grand Valley, desperately trying to catch their in-state rivals, used a strong sprint to move into the silver-medal position. The Hoos rounded out the group of medalists, securing UVa’s 5th V8 grand final medal in 5 years, a bronze.
The top 16 UVa rowers have jumped straight into training for the Royal Henley Regatta, which will start on July 1st. The athletes will compete first in Switzerland and then in England. This year the Henley regatta will broadcast the racing around the world, so everyone will be able to watch the Hoos live! Stay tuned for more information!
Thanks to everyone for all your support this season. Go Hoos!