Rowing halts strokes after season ender

Chris Harper

After a confusing start, which lead to a race restart on Friday’s heat, Seattle Pacific University’s varsity eight crew rowed to a second-place finish with a time of 6:49.03, which was the fourth fastest overall among the other heat competitors.

Seattle Pacific University’s placing earned them a berth into the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill River the following day.

The Falcon’s crew ended up placing fourth on Saturday going up against a high-level field of NCAA Division II crews in the grand finals.

Seattle Pacific University entered the competition as the projected fourth seed and failed in the attempt to exceed the projection. However, the team is not disappointed in the final results. “Most of the other teams had more seasoned rowers, while we were mostly comprised of freshmen and sophomores and the average length of experience being around 9 to 18 months. But our team really stepped up and rose to the challenge,” assistant coach Amy Hildebrandt said.

During Saturday’s race, the Falcons varsity eight crew had a plan of maintaining a high stroke rate through the early stages, and they even rowed in second place for a good portion of the 2,000-meter race with top-seeded Barry University back in third by more than a boat length. However, the crew ran out of gas in the last stretch.

“I think if we had been conservative at the start, we would have already known exactly how the race would have finished before it even started. We did exactly what we needed to do to put ourselves in the race late and take our chances against a much more experienced field.  I am extremely proud of the chances they took and effort they put in to be where they were at the halfway point,” head coach Andy Derrick’s said in regards to the strategy the coaching staff had in place.

While the season may be over, the coaching staff is looking forward to the offseason, where they are looking to come in strong for the next season. When asked, Hildebrandt had this to say for her thoughts on the offseason: “We would like the team to continue to stay active and not completely lose touch with the rowing stroke by hopping on an ergometer [rowing machine] consistently, doing a bit of cross training, and keeping up with a weight lifting regimen.” The coaching staff hopes that their current and new athletes can find that extra gear to put them over the teams that defeated them this season.

Regardless of how the season ended for the Falcons, the coaching staff could not be happier with their crew’s performance. “I think they did an exceptional job this year, making huge improvements as both a program with our depth … the team did very well this season and we really saw an exponential growth in speed and maturity on the team, especially a fairly young team with limited experience.”

Next season should bring even more improvement for the team, and Derrick is optimistic. “Our current team needs to come in fit, and ready to train next fall, as we did a lot with a very limited fall last year, so a more productive fall can only help us next spring!”