Youth movement propels Laker Navy in Indy

Kate Nuyen

It was a weekend of rest and a weekend of action for the Grand Valley State University club rowing team.

A number of upperclassmen needed a weekend off to rest, which created an opportunity for freshmen to shine. Coach John Bancheri described the men that were at Head of the Eagle Regatta in Indianapolis as a group that just wanted to race.

“These guys are racers and those are the guys you want,” Bancheri said.

Novice Men’s 8+ took first, while the Novice Women’s 8+ took second place, coming up short behind Purdue University. Women’s team head coach Hugh McKeegan said finishing second to Purdue will be a good chip on the team’s shoulder and give them something to chase for the rest of the season.

Some of the novice women raced up on varsity, which coach McKeegan saw as a good opportunity for the younger women to see what higher racing looks like.

In addition to being a successful team weekend, a number of individuals performed with luster as well.

Mario Sanchez, a cross country runner turned rower, raced for the Lakers.

“Sanchez was put in the boat and the whole team just went faster. Sometimes the best success comes from luck,” Bancheri said.

Rower Brittany Gronda saw this weekend as an example of building the rowing team from the youngest up.

“The main focus for the regatta was to have the novice rowers gain more racing experience, as well as a team focus of staying long and strong for the 5,000 meter course that can take around 17 to 25 minutes,” Gronda said.

The Lakers are always looking to be well rounded through all age groups and experience levels.

Gronda described this past Saturday as dynamic.

“While on land, things are a bit more relaxed and exciting,” Gronda said. “The atmosphere changes the moment you get inside your boat and begin rowing out to the start. It becomes more intense and focused on the goal: gold.”

And the Laker Navy certainly has a history of bringing home that gold.

While the fall season’s end is quickly approaching, the rowing team is not looking to slow down. The Lakers still plan to continue training hard to guarantee they are primed for the spring season sprint racing.

This season still has time left, however.

The Lakers will be competing next weekend in Kansas for the Wichita Frostbite Regatta. After that, they will be back in Michigan for the Boardwalk Sprints in Grand Haven.