This past weekend UMass Lowell hosted the River Hawk Challenge. Our team worked hard all week, knowing that this was time to prove what we could do as a team. Upon arrival at the Merrimack River early Saturday morning, we realized two things. 1. Conditions will not be ideal as it was pouring rain and windy. 2. The other schools came to fight too and victory would not be as easy as it sounds. That did not stop the team from showing the other schools not to count us out just yet. We had a couple of nail biter races.
There was only one category that had to qualify for their final which was the Women’s Varsity 4+. Caysea Anderson, Jillian Cidras, Isabella Church, Sydney Story, and coxswain Mary Kehrli, were the first from our team to the river. Lining up in lane two, they only had to beat one other boat to make it to finals. They faced UMass Lowell and Mass Maritime in this race. With a time of 7 minutes and 20 seconds, the ladies placed first and would be seeded for the final event.
Next up we had the Women’s Novice 8+. The women came ready to compete and take home some hardware. They did just that. As they passed our tent, you could see the coxswain, Evan DeBassio, calling a move. They slowly began to pull ahead of Middlebury. The crew did not give up and pushed. The girls, Suzana Smith, Addison Murphy, Hailey Lewis, Sophie Johnson, Alex Schiffer, Kamakana Pankiwska, Caitlin Nearing, Tori Claudio, and coxswain, Evan Debassio, took first place with a time of 6 minutes and 48 seconds. At the enFro d of the regatta, each one of them were presented with pint glasses in place of medals.
The next race was a new line up in the Men’s Second Varsity 4+. Despite having only couple of practices, the men gave everything they had. That boat included Kye Higgins, John Mannion, Bradley Schmidt, Mike Durgin, and coxswain, Max Fullmer. The hard work and dedication really showed in that event when they placed third with a time of 6 minutes and 28 seconds.
The Women’s Second Varsity 4+ was up and ready for a challenge. The ladies, Jenna Tolin, Kathryn McGee, Hailey Lewis, Sophie Vicedomie, and coxswain Evan DeBassio, left everything on the Merrimack. They had a great start and finished the race with a time of 7 minutes and 44 seconds.
Now it was time for the Women’s Varsity 4+ to hit the water once again. They sit ready at the start in suspense knowing that this was going to be a true race. From the very beginning, the boats were bow ball to bow ball. The women made a couple of advances throughout the race but Bowden was sure to match them. They put their hearts into that row. The women placed second in their heat by one second with a time of 7 minutes and 13 seconds.
The next event, the Men’s Second Varsity 8+, had a similar outcome. Going up to the start the boys knew they had to race hard. Middlebury really gave them a fight in that race. The boats were neck and neck until the very last second literally. The men, Thomas Gmoser, Skyler Jordan, Matt Susi, Gunnar Rinkel, Levi Comire, Owen Ruote, Isaiah Kittel, Andrew Lefebvre, and coxswain Evan DeBassio, came in second to Middlebury by one second with a time of 5 minutes and 57 seconds.
The Men’s Novice 4+ was up next to race. The boat made their way down the river with Kathryn McGee making her coxing debut. The boys, Sam Eleuterio, Cassius Eaton, Aman Negassi, and Ben Silvia made their way down the course with a time of 6 minutes and 59 seconds. This time allowed them to place over Mass Maritime.
The final race of the day was the Men’s Varsity 8+. The men were in one of the most competitive events of the day. Taking on schools like MIT Lightweights, the boys knew it would be a tough heat. Nonetheless, the men, Kyle Higgins, John Mannion, Colin Moulton, Noah Key, Nick Soucy, Mike Durgin, Bradley Schmidt, Joe Connors, lead by senior coxswain, Max Fullmer, did not look away at that challenge. With a time of 5 minutes and 57 seconds, they placed third in their heat ahead of Skidmore and UMass Lowell.
Overall, we had a week of productive practice as the results can show. The team is moving in the right direction. Two full weeks of practice until New England Championships. The training is hard but everyone remembers and works on how they can take that one second. Hope to see everyone in Worcester, Massachusetts as we face some big name schools in the New England Championships, Saturday, May 4th!