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 women's rowing team 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 women’s freshmen/novice 8+ and a women’s freshmen/novice 4+.
In the 8+, Sara Parks, Hannah Heller, Heather Temar, Emily Reese, Addison Bergman, Hannah Roty, Cecilia Werner, Jaimie Holden and Grace Cool finished in 12th place in its time trial (out of 19 teams), qualifying the boat for the semifinals.
In the semifinal, the Bulldogs came in third to qualify for a second-level final. In the final race, the octet wound up third--good for a 9th-place showing overall in the event.
“The growth of our women’s 8+ this spring was tremendous," Thompson stated. "This is a group that featured five novices—including three first-season novices this spring—as well as a rower who had been out of the sport for a year. They had a great semi-final race, finishing a close third behind two Division I varsity programs in Eastern Michigan and Delaware, and very nearly qualified for the Grand Final. They then had a great race in the finals as well, finishing closely behind Villanova and Army. To finish in the Top 10 of the event speaks to how well they were rowing at the end of the spring season.”
In the 4+, Kara Geyer, Abby Deslippe, Morgan Lundin, Allyson VanAntwerp and Ashleigh Mawby finished 25th during the time trial, putting them just outside the time standard of the fourth-level final.
“Our women’s 4+ improved as much as any group of rowers on our team this spring," said Thompson. "Three of the four rowers in the boat were in their first season of rowing, which is astounding; most of the boats in this event feature four athletes who have been rowing since the fall season. Not only that, but this group was rowing in an 8+ for almost the entirety of the spring season, and just within the past two weeks began rowing in a 4+, which is much more difficult. Suffice to say, this group has a lot to be proud of, and they will only continue to grow moving forward. A huge credit to Assistant Coach Sarah Hartigan for her impressive work with this crew.”
The Dad Vail Regatta marks the conclusion of the inaugural year of competition for the Bulldogs, one that saw their women finish sixth out of 11 schools in the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference (MARC) Championships held last month, and was one of only five teams to place both a First Varsity 8+ and Second Varsity 8+ in the Grand Finals of that regatta.
The team does not have any seniors or juniors, 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," he said.
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