Laker Navy scrimmages on the Susquehanna

GVL / Archive

GVL / Archive

Jay Bushen

All the ice jams and flood warnings in the world couldn’t keep the Grand Valley State University club rowing teams from preparing like a nationally regarded program.

GVSU, which has been kept off the Grand River thus far in 2014, was able to get some much-needed mileage on the Susquehanna River over the weekend while scrimmaging a pair of teams at the Bucknell Invitational in Lewisburg, Pa.

“We’re behind the eight ball right now,” said head coach John Bancheri, who was tabbed as the ACRA Women’s Coach of the Year in 2013. “Like most outdoor sports at Grand Valley, we’re a little behind with the weather being the way it is.”

The men’s varsity boat showed no signs of rust, however.

The hard work on the ergs seemingly paid off for the Lakers, as they won the majority of their races while pitted up against Bucknell University and Mercyhurst University.

“This is going to be the fastest men’s boat to ever come out of Grand Valley from what I’m seeing so far,” he said. “I’ve said this before and it didn’t happen, but I believe we’re extremely fast and the results are showing.”

The women’s team, which has won each of the last six ACRA National Championships, was speedy on day one but showed some signs of fatigue on day two.

Junior coxswain Becca Mier said her team was still able to make some progress on the scenic Susquehanna.

“I felt like this weekend we really improved,” Mier said. “It really helped to have the extra time on the water. It was a great experience.”

Bancheri said his rowers have been working vigorously indoors all winter long to get in tip-top shape for the bulk of their season.

He said the main focus right now is to rest up and study up in hopes of reducing stress for the upcoming events.

“The better they prepare academically over the next few weeks, the faster they’re going to get,” he said. “The work is already there; it’s a matter of putting the miles in — and the only way we’re going to do that is if our heads are in the game.”

The teams will have less than two weeks to gear up for the one of the biggest events of the year, the 41st San Diego Crew Classic, which is scheduled to take place from April 2 through April 7.

Senior Austin Burris said he is confident in his team’s ability to impress on the national stage.

“San Diego is really important for us,” Burris said. “Every two years we always look forward to that because there’s a lot of competition.

“We feel like we’re ready to compete at that level. We’ve been working really hard in practice putting in the mileage.”

After the SDCC, the teams will compete at the 19th Annual Don Lubbers Cup Regatta from April 12 to April 13 in Spring Lake, Mich.

In the meantime, the Laker navy will just have to hope for Mother Nature’s cooperation in order to get some more time on the water.

“Hopefully our river’s not too flooded,” Bancheri said.