Lucky number seven?

GVL / Archive
Grand Valley Rowing Team

GVL / Archive Grand Valley Rowing Team

Tate Baker

Winning one national title earns you the reputation of being a strong program. Six? That cements your place as a dynasty.

The Grand Valley State University rowing club is gearing up for another championship year as it returns strong teams from both the men and women.

“This fall season is going to be exciting, especially with the group that we have coming back,” Head Coach John Bancheri said.

The Laker Navy is coming off its sixth straight American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship. As the six-peat capped off an impressive spring for the Lakers, Bancheri said he believes his team can carry over the energy that was generated during its championship run.

“Those championships come from dedication and hard work in the off-season,” Bancheri said. “We will continue to compete at a national level as long as our will to work stays a consistent level.”

For any program, it’s difficult to retain focus year after year. The ability to do so is something Bancheri said is the strong point of his program.

“Keeping the fight in our kids is never an issue,” he said. “We are consistently led by a group of upperclassmen, which really makes our jobs easier.”

GVSU faces the uphill battle of many successful programs with having to replace a group of seniors that anchored the rowing program for the past four years.

“It’s a challenge that myself and our staff face every year,” Bancheri said. “We have started to gain high school recruits from around the area recently. Credit our recent program development which gets the word out to many athletes among the area.”

Senior Costas Cuingan leads the men’s varsity crew as it prepares for a demanding fall schedule.
“We have a lot of match-ups against some high level programs,” Cuingan said. “Obviously the Head of the Charles is what everyone points out on our schedule, but it’s important we keep our focus throughout the fall.”

In the 2012-13 season, the women’s novice crew had an impressive season going unbeaten throughout the entire year. Eyes will be on this group of rowers as many of them will take on their first varsity season.

“That group of girls turned many heads last year,” Bancheri said. “It will be a big adjustment for them as they will face tougher competition, but I believe they are ready for the challenge.”

Before key events such as the Head of the Charles, it’s imperative the freshman adjust to the speed of varsity races. Making the leap from novice to varsity is a huge wake up call for many second year rowers.

“I remember when I competed in my first varsity race, how much more intense everything was,” senior Shelby Welbaum said. “It’s important to just remember your training during the race.”

The rowers of the Laker Navy will get their feet wet Sept. 28 when they compete for the first time this fall at the Grand River Challenge in Grand Rapids.