GV claims fifth straight ACRA title

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Grand Valley Womens rowing

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GVL / Archive Grand Valley Womens rowing

Bryce Derouin

Grand Valley State University has displayed a history of excellence in athletics. The GVSU rowing teams upheld that tradition at the American College Rowing Association in Gainesville, Georgia on their way to capturing the women’s team point championship and the overall point’s championship for the fifth-consecutive year.

GVSU made the grand finals in nine of their 11 entries, while competing against top Division I club programs. The Lakers took secured gold medals in the Women’s Varisity 8 (6 minutes, 23.4 seconds) and the Women’s Novice 8 (6:51.8).

“To compete at that level and win the points trophy again, speaks so highly of our university, our program, our training plan, and our support system,” said head coach John Bancheri. “To win and produce what we produce is something that we are extremely excited about and extremely proud of.”

The Lakers knew the pressure and would be on them to defend their title. As the four-time defending champions, they knew they had a target on their back and that the competition would be gunning for them.
“Going into a race with the full knowledge that Grand Valley has consistently won, is a lot of pressure,” said sophomore Courtney Panter, a member of the winning Women’s Novice 8 team. “It was a fight to the finish. With 250 left, we were dead even, and with 100 left, six seat was on their bow ball. We did not even think we were going win until the last two strokes. As we crossed the finish line, nearly every single person in the boat burst into tears.”

The GVSU rowing program has had enormous success under Bancheri. When asked about his team’s history of success, he kept it simple.

“September, October, and November,” he said, citing the months where his team prepares for the season. “They were well-prepared and they put the time in. We have a great training plan and they put the mileage in when it counted. We built a fantastic base; from that base we were able to reach a higher peak. If you had asked me if our women’s team could win, I would have said it would take a lot. But they put the time in and the effort in, academically, in school and financial fundraising. They did everything asked of them and then more. As a result, we had the success we had.”

One of the most rewarding things for Bancheri and the GVSU rowing program is seeing how far they have come over the year to reach this point. The path they took to become champions again made this particular championship feel even sweeter.

“There were a lot of tough times in the year,” he said. “There were a lot of detours on the way. Knowing what we had to do and know what we had to endure to get where we got made it that much sweeter. Our team motto has been ‘it ‘ain’t what you got it’s what you do with what you got.’ Every one of our kids might not have been the biggest, but they gave everything they had from their soul, to their toes, and watching them perform at that level right to do going off the awards dock was emotional.”

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