Off to Ohio

GVL / Eric Coulter
A coxed four rows onto the Grand River under the watchful eye of Head Rowing Coach John Bancheri

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter A coxed four rows onto the Grand River under the watchful eye of Head Rowing Coach John Bancheri

Bryce Derouin

Before John Bancheri made his impact coaching the Grand Valley State University club rowing program, he was a coach at Marietta College in Ohio. Now, eight years after he left Marietta, Bancheri and his men’s rowing team will look to gain some early season experience in a friendly race against the school where he spent 13 years coaching.

“Marietta invited us down to spend the weekend down at the combine,” Bancheri said. “Marietta alumni paid for the trip. They rowed for me when I was the coach there. It’s nice to get a free away trip early in the season.”

The Lakers will compete against Marietta in a 10-mile race on the Ohio River. The race is in honor of former Marietta College head rowing coach Ralph Lindamood, who led the program for 25 years (1959-1984) and whose teams won 80 percent of the races they entered, including three varsity heavyweight championships. He is also known for his ties to rowing in the Midwest and encouraging crew programs at other colleges.

“It’s just a chance for us guys to get there and get some good mileage,” Bancheri said. “The best way to practice is in the heat of competition. Race day is the best practice day, I’ve always said.”
For the most part, the Lakers are not accustomed to being prepared to race this early in their season. However, the athletes are looking forward to the challenge and hope to use this experience to prepare themselves for their future rows.

“It’ll give us a good early indication of our speed for the year,” said senior Justin Wegner. “For some of the younger guys, getting more races in will help build experience. It’s a low-key race with a team who is friendly competition and it benefits each team with getting race experience in. It gets us ready for bigger races later in the season.” Even in an early season race, Bancheri is still looking to see if anyone for the Lakers is going to stand out. However, he is also aware of the realistic expectations of his team this early in the season.

“It’s really early for us to be honest,” he said. “We should be spending a lot of time on skill and drill, but it kind of gets boring and this will mix things up. The drive and determination is there without a question. We’re looking to see who the one or two guys are that will step up that are going to make our varsity depth that much faster this year. We got a couple guys who have the horsepower and the fitness, but the technical portion is something that takes a long time to develop.”

On Saturday, each crew will mix their athletes and share their favorite skills for development. Each crew will also have their own training session in the afternoon, giving the Lakers plenty of time to prepare for their race. “It’s a really great opportunity to kind of break away from racing each other and get a little bit more competition,” Wegner said. “We will be on the water about three or four times this weekend so we will get a lot of time on the water, more than on a normal weekend and the extra training will pay off.”

Since this race doesn’t have as much of an emphasis on competing, Bancheri is heading into this weekend with two major goals in mind. “I want to get a lot of mileage and for the guys to have fun together,” he said.
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