This weekend, the URI Crew Club traveled to New Jersey for the Knecht Cup on the Cooper River. Eight boats across seven different events were entered: Men’s 1×, Women’s Club 4+, Men’s Club 4+, Men’s Varsity 8+, Men’s Second Varsity 8+, Women’s Novice 8+, and the Men’s Novice 4+.
Waking up before sunrise on Saturday, April 13th, course conditions needed to be assessed. The team’s previous visit to the Cooper River was discouraged by rough waters and high winds, yet upon arrival to the race course, it was clear skies and beautiful conditions. There was a slight tail wind, but no complaints on that matter. With two full days of racing ahead, the crews prepared to give the Cooper their all.
The day began at 7:24am with the men’s single event as John Mannion rowed to the starting alongside his four competitors in the heat. To qualify for grand finals he would have to place top two of his heat or record one of the next two fastest times overall. He placed third in his heat but advanced to grand finals with a time of 7 minutes 47 seconds.
The next boat to venture onto the Cooper River was the Men’s Novice 4+. Eager for their second race of the season, the boat went out ready to put up a fight. The boat, including Sam Eleuterio, Aman Negassi, Cassius Eaton, Ben Silvia, and coxswain Evan DeBassio, advanced to third finals where they placed third with a time of 8 minutes and 26 seconds. While they did not medal, the competitive event gave them some great experience.
Next up was the men’s varsity 8+. The boat with stroke Colin Moulton (Sr.), John Mannion, Nick Soucy (Sr.), Noah Key, Kyle Higgins, Mike Durgin, Bradley Schmidt, Joe Connors, and coxswain Max Fullmer (Sr.), raced in a tough heat. Placing fifth, they would go to third finals the following day.
On the water next was the men’s second varsity 8+. More than half this crew are novice rowers who are doing a great job of stepping up this season. At stroke Skyler Jordan, Isaiah Kittel, Owen Route, Levi Comire, Gunnar Rinkel, Matt Susi, Andrew Lefebvre, Thomas Gmoser, and coxswain Evan DeBassio came race ready. The men rowed a 6 minute and 27 second race which placed them fourth in their heat. That means that would race the next day in petite finals.
Now it was time for the first women’s race of the day. The women’s novice 8+ set out on the water with only three goals in mind: stay set, stay together, and strong finish across the line. To say the least, they exceeded all of their goals. Their boat, Suzana Smith, Addison Murphy, Isabella Church, Sophie Johnson, Alex Schiffer, Kamakana Pankiwska, Caitlin Nearing, Tori Claudio, and coxswain Mary Kehrli finished third in their heat, advancing to grand finals the following morning. As the months of hard training is put to work, the women gain confidence and start to focus on their first trip to grand finals.
Two boats were entered in the next event, the women’s club 4+, time for a little bit of friendly competition. The first boat to race was URI B which included Jenna Tolin, Kathryn McGee, Hailey Lewis, Sophie Vicedomie, and coxswain Evan DeBassio. Recording a time of 8 minutes and 43 seconds, the girls beat Thomas Jefferson B securing their spot in the petite finals. Within moments, the next race began and the URI A boat with Caysea Anderson, Jillian Cidras, Isabella Church, Sydney Story, and coxswain Mary Kehrli, came down the course. At the start the ladies were behind but were determined in their pursuit. By the time the boat got to the thousand meter mark, they were even with University of New Hampshire B. The strong will of the boat drove them across the finish line in first place with a time of 8 minutes and 2 seconds. This qualified them for grand finals Sunday morning.
The final race of the evening was the men’s club four. Colin Moulton, Noah Key, John Mannion, Nick Soucy, and Max Fullmer, rowed up to the start ready to win. Anything except grand finals were not an option for these driven men. Everyone in the boat had raced earlier that day but it did not matter. The boys crossed the finish line first in their heat with a time of 7 minutes and 3 seconds. They would move onto grand finals.
The forecast was supposed to be rainy and miserable but the conditions decided to hold out for our second day of racing. The first race was John Mannion in his single. He ventured to the start without a speed coach but that did not stop him. In the grand finals, he placed fourth with a time of 7 minutes and 45 seconds. He missed third by 2 seconds. While he didn’t medal, he put up a good fight to his competitors.
Next up we had the men’s club 4+. The grand final was not an easy race. There were a lot of big name rowing schools there including Michigan. The boat gave it their all every stroke. They came in fifth with a time of 7 minutes and 12 seconds. They beat Lafayette by over 10 seconds.
The women’s club 4+ was the next event. The URI B boat was the first to race in petite finals. Off to a close start, the women gave it their all. They came in 6th with a time of 8 minutes 49 seconds. In the following heat, the URI A boat raced down the course. They came in fourth place in their grand finals with a time of 8 minutes and 9 seconds. The boat missed third by only 3 seconds. Even though neither ladies’ boats medaled, there is exceptional progress for the fairly new women’s club program.
Next the women’s novice 8+ hit the water. During the warm up to the start, the girls got their heads in the boat and were ready to go down swinging. At the start, the women stayed even with their competitors. The women crossed the finish line in 6th with a time of 8 minutes and 28 seconds. Even though they did not perform as they expected, the boat was happy for the chance to be in the finals. They are ready to redeem themselves next weekend in Lowell, Massachusetts.
The young boat in the Men’s Second Varsity 8+ went on to challenge some big schools in the petite finals. They placed 6th with a time of 6 minutes and 44 seconds. This week of practice will include a lot of hard work in order to defeat some of boats this weekend.
Before heading back north, we had one more race to finish. The men’s varsity 8 still had their third finals race. The men were out to prove that had a little more race in them. As the wind started to pick up, the men made their way to the start. They placed 2nd in the third level finals with a time of 6 minutes and 36 seconds.
Overall, we had a productive weekend. We had four boat make it to grand finals and two make it to petites. Next weekend, we are ready to push even more as UMass Lowell hosts the River Hawk Challenge. Thank you to all the parents who came out to support us. See you next week!!!