Top competition highlights experience at Head of the Charles Regatta

Courtesy / Tyler Sellmer
GVSU Rowing

Courtesy / Tyler Sellmer GVSU Rowing

Zach Sepanik

After a 19-hour ride to Boston — all packed in a van — and a trip to Harvard Square, the Grand Valley State University club rowing team then decided it was time to leave its mark on the 48th Head of the Charles Regatta last weekend.

As the premier fall race in North America, the Head of the Charles has been held annually since 1965. It draws over 9,000 athletes from around the world, including top Division II, Division III, and club crews from the U.S. and Canada. They compete over a winding three-mile course in a “head” style race, with crews starting one after another, racing against the clock.

“In my first year at Grand Valley, we had zero athletes compete at the Head of the Charles,” said GVSU men’s and women’s club rowing head coach John Bancheri. “This year, my eighth, we had seven crews. It was a great weekend of racing for our program, and I’m proud of how well we represented Grand Valley on such a big stage.”

The Laker Navy had three top-five finishes including second place in the women’s collegiate fours, third in the men’s collegiate eights, and fourth in the women’s collegiate eights. Also, six of the seven Laker crews secured automatic bids to next year’s regatta.

“The results on both the men’s and women’s side of the program highlight the depth of talent on our squad, and point towards a very promising spring championship season,” Bancheri said.

In a field of 38, the GVSU women’s collegiate fours team — consisting of sophomores Rebecca Mier and Kelsey VanAmberg, senior Jessica Vogl, and juniors Courtney Panter and Molly Visel — started 37th and completed the course in 19 minutes, 19.59 seconds, en route to their second place finish.

Meanwhile, the Laker women’s collegiate eights team — made up of junior coxswain Kyle Barnhart, seniors Carey Mankins, Kylen Pattermann, Rebecca Studer and Lindsay Marshall, juniors Maria Edelhauser and Shelby Welbaum, and sophomores Brittany Hyde and Kaitlyn VanBoven — completed the course in fourth place with a time of 18:04.98.

“We hadn’t practiced in our race line-up for very long before the race, so I was kind of nervous about that,” Mankins said. “We had our boat meeting before the race and we all talked about what we expected of each other. With this race, we definitely learned the importance of communication.”

The GVSU men’s collegiate eights crew of senior coxswain Jordan Hart, seniors Justin Wegner, Anthony Anzell, Keegan Jahnke and Nate Biolchini, juniors Ken Pierson, Ed Avena and Costas Ciungan, and sophomore Austin Burris, finished third with a time of 15:51.78.

“When it comes down to race day, the months of training we have gone through takes over and it all comes down to execution,” Wegner said. “We executed very well this weekend. Our finish this year indicates that we are the fastest this group has ever been.”

With the experience at the Head of the Charles now behind them, the Laker Navy will put it to use as they get back to training. They compete next at the Head of the Huron on Nov. 4 in Ypsilanti, Mich.
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