GVSU rowing club finishes third at nationals

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Moments from the Lubbers Cup Regatta on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Moments from the Lubbers Cup Regatta on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016.

Mason Tronsor

In what was suppose to be a rebuilding year for the Grand Valley State rowing club, the Lakers were the surprise story at the ninth annual American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) national championship event held in Gainesville, Georgia.

The team finished in third place overall behind the likes of the University of Michigan and the University of California Santa Barbara. The women’s squad finished second, while the men fought hard in a race for third place.

“The women rowed to their full potential,” said coach John Bancheri. “It was disappointing they did not come out with the win, but UCSB was just faster than us. The men’s competition was very close. The competition level is even higher. Once again, some schools were just faster than us.”

Bancheri was hospitalized before the team made the trip down to nationals. However, he was able to watch the competition via live stream on his computer.

“I was considered the interim head coach for the weekend,” said assistant coach Michelle Goodwin. “It was definitely a different perspective from my end. But he was definitely in contact with the kids the whole time. It was basically like he was there without being there.”

The men’s novice team finished second which the highest finish ever in GVSU history while the women’s team finished fourth.

“The big standout for us was our freshman team or novice team,” said coach Bancheri.

Along with a strong team finish, the Lakers also earned individual honors while at the national tournament.

Senior Austin Gentry from the men’s team was the lone member of the All-Great Lakes region team.

“I’m honored to have made the all-region team,” Gentry said. “This region is perhaps the most competitive for that consideration since it houses some of the fastest crews in the nation. I have friends at other universities in the region who also made the list, all of whom are national team quality athletes.”

On the women’s side, three rowers were named to the All-Great Lakes region team. Those rowers include juniors Ellie Peebles and Brittany Gronda, along with senior Christina Pavano.

“The women’s side finished very respectfully,” Bancheri said. “It wasn’t the finish they were hoping for obviously, but the nice thing was we were able to see teams from the West Coast we usually would not see during the year.”

Multiple GVSU rowers also cracked the first and second All-Academic teams. First team members recorded a 3.85 or higher GPA, while second team rowers accumulated a GPA between 3.5-3.84.

Three rowers were awarded first team honors: Madeline Moldenhaur (junior), Faith Platz (sophomore), Christopher Doherty (junior) and Brittany Castillo (junior). Second team members include: Vincent Amatangelo (junior) and Logan Conner (sophomore).

Before graduating multiple seniors last year, the Lakers were atop the rowing mountain. However, this season the team started over with a younger nucleus. With a strong finish at the championship, the future looks very bright for the club.

“Since this is my first season with the team, I heard this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us,” Goodwin said. “There were a lot of first year varsity members in the boat and it showed in our performances in the fall.”