9:12 a.m., May 10, 2010----The University of Delaware men's crew club team had another historic showing at the 72th annual Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, held May 7-8 in Philadelphia. The regatta is the largest in the country, featuring over 3,000 athletes from 120 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.
The UD program took home the men's overall points trophy for the third consecutive year, and finished second in the standings for the overall points trophy.
Also, the UD varsity women's rowing team had three top 10 finishes at the event. For complete coverage of the women's team, see BlueHens.com.
In the men's varsity heavyweight eight, UD (6:34.672) finished second to Brock University of Canada (6:28.350), and ahead of the Florida Institute of Technology (6:38.994), Virginia (6:44.218), Temple (6:44.398) and Jacksonville (7:00.924) in the grand final.
Brock established a lead early in the race, and by the halfway mark, UD was sitting in fourth place behind Brock, Florida Tech and Temple. The Hens were able to respond the second half of the race, and pushed themselves past the Owls and Panthers into second place.
The lineup of coxswain Sam McDonald, Colin Ethridge, Sean Rader, Derek Maier, Pat Kenny, Legare Smith, Justin Weiner, John Pichola and Bob Bigelow came into the regatta unseeded, but upset Temple and Brock in the heats during Friday's racing, posting the fastest time of the day. In semifinals racing on Saturday morning, UD edged out Temple, Grand Valley, LaSalle and Florida to grab the top spot for the afternoon grand final.
In the 19-year history of the club program, it is the second time UD has earned a silver medal in the men's heavyweight varsity eight event, the last one in 1996.
"The conditions were a factor in the racing on Saturday with the 30 mile per hour headwind, but they stepped up and raced extremely hard,” said UD Head Coach Chuck Crawford, in his 16th season at the helm. "Their performance was impressive, I'm very proud of the crew's effort."
Senior captain and two-seat in the boat, John Pichola, echoed Crawford's praises. "For a mostly lightweight crew, racing in those conditions and against some of the top varsity heavyweight programs in the United States and Canada, we're very pleased with the result."
In the men's varsity lightweight eight, UD came into the event the defending champion, but was edged out by Mercyhurst College in the grand final. The Lakers crossed the line first with a time of 6:19.612 to the Blue Hens' 6:22.402. St. Joseph's took third in 6:23.720, followed by Michigan State (6:27.266), Marietta (6:42.612) and Michigan (6:45.714). The lineup of coxswain Kyle Moyer, Dan Salerno, Dylan Dartnell, Will Purman, Barrett Dickey, Alec Walczak, Steve Krasuki, James Buckmann and Ryan Hilker sat in third place for most of the race, but was able to pass St. Joseph's with 500 meters to go to grab the silver.
"SJU and Mercyhurst have well coached lightweight programs", said UD's lightweight coach, Joe Federici. "The boat was comprised mostly of freshmen and a few varsity lightweight rowers, and I thought they performed very well in a competitive event. We have a solid foundation of lightweight rowers, and it was a great experience for the younger guys to race and perform at such a high level."
In the grand final of the men's freshman/novice eight, St. Joseph's crossed the line first in 6:03.690, followed by Drexel (6:05.530), UD (6:05.644), Purdue (6:09.264), Michigan (6:11.444) and Michigan State (6:25.644). The lineup of coxswain Angela Ferelli, Kyle Crespo, Ed Rees, Kevin McCarthy, Andrew Bitner, Stephen Pope, Justin Miller, Christopher Salpeas and Carl Burgazli got off to a fast start and had the lead with 500 meters down, but with 1,200 meters left gave a three-seat lead to the Hawks. Drexel and UD remained even through most of the racing, but the Dragons nipped the Hens before the line.
"With only one athlete in the boat with prior rowing experience before UD, I thought the crew performed well,” said UD's freshman coach, Joe Kleiman. "The boat had been improving every week in practice and racing, and put up one of their best races of the year at Dad Vails. They rowed extremely hard and I'm happy for the guys."
"We're really excited about the team performance,” said Pichola. "Our early season goal was to repeat as the Men's Trophy champions and race hard across the board. Everyone left everything they had on the course today, and the results show that."