Rowing team 3-peats as national champs, continues to England

Courtesy Photo / Dayna Campbell
Mens team rowing at the SIRA Championship Regatta

Courtesy Photo / Dayna Campbell Mens team rowing at the SIRA Championship Regatta

Emanuel Johnson

For the third straight year, the Grand Valley State University rowing team managed to capture the overall team points trophy at the American Collegiate Rowing Association Club National Championship regatta.

Yet, despite having reached such a significant milestone, GVSU head coach John Bancheri, who has been instrumental in building the program into a national contender since his arrival in 2005, said the outing was less than ideal.

“At ACRA, we had to win on the success of the entire program,” he said. “Our individual varsity boats did very well but not as well as they were capable of. It was sort of like a track meet whereas we didn’t win the main event, but we did so well elsewhere that we made up for it. It was the strength of the program that brought us a third straight ACRA championship.”

Each boat, however, will soon have the chance to redeem itself. The team will send a group of more than 30 athletes to England to tour the countryside and take part in the Henley Royal Regatta, the oldest rowing event in the world.

“Going over to Henley will be a chance for us to further put our name out there in the rowing community,” Bancheri said. “Every couple of years since Don Lubbers started the tradition in the early ’90s, we’ve sent a group over there. But I think that this will be strongest group that we’ve ever sent.”

The women, who captured the women’s team points trophy at the ACRA championships, will depart on Saturday and spend two weeks in a rented house during their stay.

Senior Kathryn Phelan said the Henley competition should bring out the best in the team.

“We’re very definitively happy with the ACRA results as the end of our national season and the end of the season for a lot of our teammates, but England is just a whole different game,” she said. “The training is different, the races are different, the atmosphere is different – to me it seems like its own separate mini-season at the end of a very successful mini-season.”

The women will compete in the Women’s Henley Regatta, the Senior Women’s Eight and the Senior Women’s Four with coxswain.

The men will depart on June 21 for the same house once the women have finished their tour.

Bancheri said the men were in a period of rebuilding in the past, but in England they will have the opportunity to pick up some extra experience in their boats. U.S. rowing rules mandate that only undergraduates may participate in collegiate races, but British rules allow for graduate students to participate as well.

Because of this, GVSU assistant coaches Mark McllDuff and Geoff Sadek will participate in the action in England.

Sadek, who graduated from GVSU as team captain last year, said he is looking forward to the opportunity to once again row as a Laker.

“I’m very excited for this opportunity,” he said. “I never really stopped training since last season ended, so I’ve gotten faster and stronger on the water since then. I’m looking forward to the high level of competition and the tradition, as well as the opportunity to put on a demonstration for our rowers.”

The men will compete in the Men’s Henley Royal Regatta, the Temple Challenge Cup and the Jesus College Men’s Spare Pair.

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