GVSU rowers navigate southern waters

GVSU’s varsity men rowers took fourth place overall in the SIRA regatta.

Eric Coulter

GVSU’s varsity men rowers took fourth place overall in the SIRA regatta.

Once again, the Grand Valley State University rowing team traveled across the country in search of top competition.

Last week’s travels found the team in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship Regatta last Saturday and Sunday.

GVSU entered several races, including the men’s and women’s Varsity 8. GVSU head coach John Bancheri said he was impressed with the men’s varsity team, which finished fourth place overall.

“Our varsity men rowed a fabulous race, only a few seconds off of the medals,” he said. “They don’t have quite the horsepower or the crew from last year, but these guys really have heart. I don’t think they could have given anything more than what they gave that race.”

The women’s varsity team moved up to the Division I race, where it finished in second place behind Mercyhurst College. Sophomore Christina Turner commented on the crew’s performance.

“It was disappointing not to take first place, but we did gain some time on Mercyhurst from last year,” she said. “We put everything we had out there, so I was happy with that.”

Bancheri, however, said he had hoped for better results from the women’s crew.

“The varsity women did not live up to what I believe their capabilities are,” he said. “They had a great semifinal, but in the final, it looked like we spun our wheels, just taking a lot of strokes instead of powerful, long strokes like we are capable of doing.”

One possible explanation could be found in the team’s brand new boat, which came as a result of a $35,000 donation to the rowing program. Bancheri explained the period of adjustment that comes with any new boat.

“A brand new boat is a lot stiffer, so you really are going to feel it and hear any reaction to it, which takes a little getting used to,” he said. “Our reactions have to be quicker, since it’s less forgiving than a well-worn boat.”

Not only will the women’s team work to get used to their new boat, the rest of the program will improve their speed and fitness. Senior Jerry Jarvis commented on the team’s approach.

“We need to race like it’s the grand final every time from here on out,” he said. “We need to work on our form so that we can give it all we have every single race, every single time. We have to improve our rate, power and focus.”

In order to reach those goals, Bancheri will put his team through a rigorous week of training to get them ready for the final push of the season.

“As we go into our speed cycle, our athletes will learn to adapt technically and keep up with the speed of the boat,” he said. “This week is when we’re going to go out and do a workout which is basically 45 minutes of hell.”

The workout consists of intervals where the team will row at full power for a set amount of time, then back off slightly for an equal amount of time.

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