All Season Long

All Season Long

Bryce Derouin

All season long, the Grand Valley State University women’s club rowing team had its sights set on a single race—the Henley Regatta.

Every three years, GVSU has the opportunity to travel overseas to England for the event, which attracts some of the top teams in the world.

“It’s such a unique experience, it’s really unlike any other events on the schedule,” senior coxswain Kyle Barnhart said. “Having the opportunity to compete overseas really pushes us even harder.”

The Lakers opposed some of their best competition of the year in this season finale. Some of the universities and clubs they faced were the likes of the University of Oxford, Newcastle University and powers from the U.S. such as Harvard University and Columbia University.

“It was a great feeling to be able to not only represent Grand Valley State University, but also the United States, as well,” Barnhart said. “This is really the only time we get to compete outside of the United States. It’s definitely an experience unlike any other.”

Unlike every other regatta that GVSU has competed in this year, the Henley Regatta was determined by “bracket style” competition, resulting in only two crews racing at a time instead of the usual six.

“It was definitely more intense than some other races we have been in, because you lose and you go home,” assistant women’s coach Kelsey Arnold said. “I think that also pushed us and helped us get to where we did at the Henley Regatta.”

GVSU navigated through the field of 32 qualifying crews to face the University of Oxford in the finals. Oxford got out to a quick start, and despite a continuous surge from the Lakers, it eventually pulled away to win the temple challenge cup.

“We knew that we were going to have our hands full with Oxford, and we had a set plan for what we were going to do,” Arnold said. “They got out to a fast start just like we thought they would. We tailed them the entire race until eventually they pulled away in the last 100 meters or so.”

In the end, this was a big accomplishment from the Lakers as they not only brought notoriety back to the U.S., but also quickly made a name for themselves in foreign territory.

“It’s a great feeling to be known not in your own state or country, but in a foreign country,” Barnhart said. “The more we accomplish the more the Grand Valley name gets out, which isn’t just good for us, but for the entire program and university, as well.”

Having past experience competing in the Henley Regatta, Arnold knows just how important it was to capture the opportunity of competing overseas.

“I’ve competed here in the past and it’s unlike anything else,” she said. “You really can’t take advantage of this kind of opportunity because it only happens every so often.”

The GVSU men’s rowing teams followed suit and competed in the Henley Regatta in early July.

Six years ago when the ACRA Club National Championship was created, Grand Valley State University set out to become a household name in rowing. After capturing a national championship every single year since its creation, the GVSU women have put the Lakers on the map.

“I couldn’t be happier with how everyone competed this weekend,” said head coach John Bancheri. “We have a great group of seniors that really anchor not only the team, but the entire program as well.”

The Women’s Varsity 8 rowing team took home gold at the ACRA National Championship by finishing with a time of 6 minutes, 33.4 seconds, holding off University of California Santa Barbara, and Purdue University.

“They really set out to accomplish their goals they set this season and didn’t disappoint once,” Bancheri said. “It’s great for the program and it makes Grand Valley more recognizable among other colleges and universities.”

The Men’s Varsity 8 also competed well as they knocked off Michigan State University to push themselves towards a third place finish with a time of 5:53.9.

“It was a great way to cap off another great season,” said junior Costas Cuingan. “It was great to beat Michigan State. Getting bronze over them in that particular race really got our guys fired up, as it is always a good feeling to beat Michigan State.

What may be the most impressive stat of the weekend came from the Women’s Novice 8 team, as they once again took home gold with a time of 6:48.7 – ending their season undefeated.

“What they were able to accomplish was really quite remarkable and shouldn’t go unnoticed from anyone,” Bancheri said. “Their focus never shifted throughout the entire season. Even with everything we had to deal with this year, they stayed strong and a lot of that credit goes to their coach Kelsey Arnold.”

While the GVSU women cruised to their sixth consecutive overall points championship, almost every other Laker rowing team tallied points in their respective races. The Women’s Double, Women’s Novice 8, Women’s Second Varsity, Men’s Double, Women’s Pair, Women’s Novice 4, Men’s Novice 8, Men’s Second Varsity, and both Men and Women Varsity 4 teams all took home points to help out the Laker cause.

“Our results this past weekend really demonstrates the focus and attention all of our teams and pairs have had this season,” said Men’s Novice coach Hugh McKeegan. “Hopefully this will carry over onto the summer where our hard work will continue into next season.”

With the continued success, there is added pressure for further growth and improvement. All of this is something that coach Bancheri is ready to embrace.

“After accomplishing so much this past six years, it gets harder and harder as the added expectations come with the continued success,” Bancheri said. “I think we are all ready to embrace that and we are excited to further put GVSU on the map. It’s really our goal to make Grand Valley a household name in the rowing community.”