Wichita Frostbite Regatta is a success for Lakers

GVL Archive
Rowers pulled ahead of their opponents at a past regatta.

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Rowers pulled ahead of their opponents at a past regatta.

Stephanie Deible

For Grand Valley State University Rowing’s head coach John Bancheri and junior Carey Mankins, competing in the Wichita Frostbite Regatta was a homecoming of sorts.

Bancheri, who coached at Wichita State University 20 years ago, and Mankin, a native of Wichita, Kan., were greeted in Wichita by former Shocker rowers, family and friends before the regatta on Nov. 6.

“When I first found out we were going to Kansas I was excited,” Mankin said. “Probably more excited than anyone on the team because I haven’t seen my aunts and uncles in such a long time. Being in college, I don’t get to go and see my cousins either since it’s 15 hours away, so it was just nice to see my family.”

With connections around the Wichita area, GVSU not only enjoyed staying with the Mankins family, but the Lakers also had the opportunity to stay with and learn from the experiences of some of Bancheri’s former rowers.

“All of the coxswains stayed with a former cox of coach (Bancheri),” said sophomore coxswain Chris Simon. “It was really fun to tell and hear stories and kind of reminisce together.”

The Lakers delivered steady performances in front of their host families and won several medals throughout the competition.

“Everyone put together strong races,” Bancheri said. “The women set a course record and the men missed setting a course record by two seconds. Overall, everyone contributed to our success, even some of our less-experienced rowers.”

On the women’s side, senior Hanna Jones and junior coxswain Jordan Hart led GVSU. Jones raced in five different events, medaling in all of them, while Hart won a gold medal in all four of her races.

Junior Justin Wegner, who medaled in four races, including the men’s open pair race where he finished one second ahead of the University of Colorado, led the men’s team.

Freshmen Austin Burris and Justin Ebert also chipped in with solid performances, both medaling in two different races.

With the Wichita Frostbite Regatta behind them, GVSU has concluded its fall season. Still, the Lakers will continue to train indoors until their spring season begins March.

Bancheri said he is pleased with the progress his rowers have made over the course of the fall season.

“From the beginning of the fall I knew the men’s crew would be very competitive,” he said. “We returned seven out of eight in the first varsity boat and most of last year’s freshmen with promise. I thought the gals on the other hand, were going to be a work in progress since we had just graduated a highly talented group of seniors.”

However, the women varsity rowers have developed faster than Bancheri anticipated.

“The improvement in the young gals’ ergo scores … shows us all one thing: these gals have the need for speed,” he said. “I predict we will have at least eight gals break 2:00 split for 20 minutes. Simply stated, that is as fast as we have ever been on the ergo.”

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