Laker Navy brings home Cal Cup

	Courtesy/ Maria Edelhauser

Courtesy/ Maria Edelhauser

Steven Garber

The men’s 8-plus team belonging to the Grand Valley State University rowing club can now relish in victory after bringing home gold in the Cal Cup of the San Diego Crew Classic for the second time in three years.

Sustainability is a word heard often at GVSU, and it’s a key aspect of the Laker Navy. The rowing club’s mission includes building and sustaining a nationally competitive intercollegiate rowing program, while pushing (or pulling) for the student-athletes to reach academic aspirations.

The club began its quest in the West for the San Diego Crew Classic title on Wednesday. The opening heats of the men’s and women’s 8-plus races were on Saturday morning. Making the long trip was nothing short of an exciting one for the team.

The men’s rowing team began against the University of California-Irvine, Boston College University, University of California Davis, California State University Long Beach, Royal HK, and Sac State Navies. GVSU and ICU beat out the pack with times of 6:14.361 and 6:18.73 respectively to advance to the Grand Final on Sunday.

The Grand Valley team earned first lane with their time in the first heat, and stayed hot. The Laker men carried the momentum from the first heat into Sunday’s Grand Final for the Men’s Collegiate Varsity Cal Cup against top programs of Purdue University, University of San Diego, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UCI and University of California Los Angeles.

The Lakers held strong in the heat and bested the group with a time similar to their first heat, 6:14.31. GVSU pulled away with the win by finishing nearly four seconds ahead of second-place Purdue.

“It speaks volumes to the kids,” head coach John Bancheri said. “These kids work as hard as any NCAA athlete on campus. Our kid’s motto is not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have.

“I’ll tell you what, they get every ounce out of it. I’m extremely proud and excited.”

The women’s team competed against four teams, but finished fifth in their opening heat in the regatta.

In the Petite heat of the Women’s Collegiate Invitational, they knocked on the doors of national competitors but came up short, finishing behind Gonzaga University (6:51.402) and the University of Miami (6:59.951) with a time of 7:04.414 but ahead of the University of Texas, Austin (7:08.45).

The men’s 8-plus team seems to be finding its rhythm at this point, while both programs hope the offseason work they put in can help them sustain a successful season as they go forward.

The teams will look to use the SDCC as a step in the right direction, but with such high aspirations of being nationally competitive, it is important to not take the results to the head.

Improving daily and getting in good shape, as the team has done in the offseason, will be keys to winning as the season progresses.

After the SDCC heats the head coach John Bancheri praised the crews for good clean rowing when presented with the national stage to impress competitors.

“Now they don’t ask where’s Grand Valley from, they ask how did Grand Valley get so fast?”

GVSU will compete in the 19th annual Don Lubbers Cup Regatta on Saturday in Sunday in Spring Lake, Mich.