OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Despite challenging racing conditions and numerous event cancellations, the Jacksonville University men's rowing program were able to have both of its boats compete and will bring a pair of top-three finishes back to the first coast.
"This race was a big one for us," said Head Coach Marci Robles. "SIRAs is our first opportunity to qualify for our national championship.
"In the Varsity 8, we knew heading into it that we didn't have the speed to win, so the focus was on putting together confident pieces in the heat and semi to try to make the A final."
"We had a great race in the heat and were able to address some of our technical deficiencies in the semi, but just didn't have the horsepower to match UNC for the second slot to make the A final. They have a strong crew, and we aren't quite there yet; the guys did everything they could, though, and that's all we ask of them. The focus heading into Sunday was to win the B final, and they rowed the best piece they've had yet to win it and finish 7th overall.
"In the 2V, we knew our heat was going to be tough. The guys rowed a great race and were able to close the gap on GA Tech's lightweights from when we saw them at FIRAs. Despite not finishing top three, their time earned them a spot in the semi but ended up finishing 6th in the B final. The 2V also had a gutsy race in their final, closing the gap on two crews that had beaten them in the semi."
With Oklahoma City and Purdue in contention for first and second place, JU's second varsity eight was firmly in position for third with a time of 6:00.52. The No. 1 and No. 2 finishes were decided by less than a second but the Stars jumped out for the event win in 5:56.76.
"On the whole, we had a good weekend of racing - we're starting to see our hard work pay off but know that there's much more to do," said Robles. "Our attention turns to Dad Vails now, so we'll spend the next few weeks getting ready to have a solid showing in Philly."
Jacksonville travels to Philadelphia Friday, May 8 to take part in the prestigious Dad Vails Regatta before competing in the MAAC Championships the following weekend.
2V8 Lineup: Cox – Alexander Tate; Stroke – Chris Nichols; 7 – Andrew Bechtold; 6 - Erik Fournier; 5 – Zachary McKenna; 4 – Ryan Chase Rowe; 3 – Alexander DeLong; 2 – William Vanneck; Bow – Travis Pulliam