PHILADELPHIA, Pa.--The Dad Vail Regatta is the largest collegiate-only regatta in the country, held on the iconic Schuylkill River just upstream of Boathouse Row, a collection of boathouses that form the oldest amateur athletic organization in the United States.
That's where the Adrian College men's rowing program found itself over the weekend to close out its first year of varsity competition.
“Being able to finish our season at such a fantastic regatta was amazing,” said Bulldogs head coach Bart Thompson. “Our rowers were able to witness rowing on a scale that most of them had never seen. I think it was a motivating and inspirational experience for so many of our rowers.”
The event features an assortment of crews both varsity and club programs from NCAA Division I, II and III levels, as well as some Canadian squads. It is one of the most challenging regattas in the country due to its high standard of quality and competition.
Adrian had two entries at the regatta, a men’s freshmen/novice 8+ and a men’s freshmen/novice 4+.
In the 8+, the Adrian entry of Emily Cahill, Rudy Schork, Julian Cantu-Salinas, Aidan Moran, Darren Castello, Connor Hagans, Michael Phillips, Ryan Boyd and David Swegles finished in 14th place in the time trial out of 24 teams, qualifying the boat for the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Adrian would up fifth and qualified for the third-level final. In that final, the Adrian crew proved victorious by one length over the field to finish 13th overall in the event.
“Our men’s 8+ finished the season the right way," Thompson said. "The guys performed reasonably well in the time trial. Unfortunately, we did not have our best race in the semi-final. At that point I told the guys they could either ruminate on the missed opportunity to make the B-Final, or they could go out and finish the season with a win. They rose to the challenge and did the latter, beating a high-quality field that included a regional rival in Milwaukee School of Engineering and a conference rival in Catholic University. Overall it was a great way to finish our season and set ourselves up for next year.”
In the 4+, the Bulldogs' Victor Thacker, Austin Pettry, Kyle Trucks, Jake Witt and Ethan Powell finished in 21st place in the time trial, putting them in the fourth-level final. The crew finished third in the final behind Georgia Tech and Brandeis, good for 21st overall in the event.
“Our men’s 4+ was a group that overcame a lot of adversity to get where they are," Thompson said. “We had a rower substitute in as a coxswain due to injury, another guy who should have been coxing but had to row due to injuries among the team, and a rower who missed a week of practice due to an unavoidable situation. But through it all the group showed a lot of perseverance and continued to get better. I’m proud of the resolves they showed and the way that they continued to fight in each race.”
The Dad Vail Regatta marks the conclusion of the inaugural year of competition for the Bulldogs, one that saw the men finish eighth out of 20 teams in the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference (MARC) Championships.
The team featured only one junior and two sophomores so Thompson expects the crew to continue improving. “This year was about establishing a culture, an expectation for the kind of work required to be successful in this sport. We look forward to building on the success we’ve had during our inaugural season as we move forward into our second year this coming fall.”
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