UD men's crew lightweight squad impressive at Dad Vail Regatta
11:45 a.m., May 16, 2013--The University of Delaware men's crew lightweight squad continued its impressive streak at the 75th annual Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, with the varsity lightweight eight and freshmen/novice lightweight eight earning victories.
The regatta, held May 10-11 on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, featured more than 3,000 athletes from 127 colleges and universities.
The UD club program had two boats competing in the grand finals on Saturday.
The varsity lightweight eight posted a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the last 500 meters of the race to hoist the Thomas W. Loschiavo Trophy for the first time since 2009. UD's crew of coxswain Becky Luber, Mike Lachant, Russell Garrett, Caleb Justis, Barrett Dickey, James Buckmann, Dan Salerno, Will Purman and Ryan Hilker crossed the line in 6:02.046. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology finished in second at 6:03.488, followed by Purdue University at 6:03.996 and defending champions Mercyhurst College at 6:04.456.
In Saturday's final, the UD found itself down to both the Engineers and Boilermakers off the start of the race, trading places for second with Purdue the first 1,000 meters. MIT extended its lead to half a boat length during the race, but with 500 meters left in the 2,000-meter race, the Hens made a move to overtake the Engineers and powered themselves across the finish line first.
"MIT got the best of us earlier in the year at our dual race in Boston by six seconds," said Buckmann, senior and team president. "We learned a lot since then about focusing on our racing strategy, and we knew what kind of race to expect from MIT. They were fast off the starting line then, and they were fast off the line Saturday, but we knew that we were a second half crew and great sprinters. It was a great race and a terrific finish, and I'm really proud to be a part of it with everyone in the boat."
For the seniors in the crew, it was especially gratifying ending their rowing careers at UD with a gold medal. Buckmann and senior Ryan Hilker came away with gold medals after three silver medal performances in the varsity lightweight eight event from 2010-12.
Seniors Dickey and Purman have two silvers from the varsity lightweight eight races in 2010 and 2012, as well as bronze medals from the heavyweight eight race in 2011, and for senior Salerno, he finished with a gold after earning a silver in the varsity lightweight eight in 2010.
In the 22-year history of the program, it was UD's eighth medal in the men's varsity lightweight eight, and sixth in a row. In 2009 the Hens won gold, while in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 they earned silver.
"It was absolutely the most exciting Dad Vail lightweight eight final I can remember," proclaimed UD coach Chuck Crawford, in his 19th year at the helm of the program. "Our crew was exceptionally hard working this year, and the senior oarsmen were the fittest group I've had, so this victory is a testament to their dedication throughout the year. They raced really smart on Saturday. Our strategy was to stay close to MIT, and sprint with everything they had left. We trained for this all year, and it paid off."
UD came into the regatta as the top seeded crew in the freshmen/novice lightweight eight after an impressive regular season. The Hens finished 7-1 for the year in dual races, with victories over Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, US Naval Academy, Columbia University, Georgetown University and MIT. Their lone defeat for the season was to Princeton University the week before the Dad Vail Regatta.
In Saturday's final, UD's crew of coxswain Chandler Clemens, Dave Caspers, Marco Grant, Colin Dabagian, Corey Brown, Jake Marshall, Andrew Kershaw, Mitch Williams and Oliver Bazalgette led wire-to-wire over the 2,000-meter course. The Hens crossed the line in 6:04.147, followed by Mercyhurst at 6:13.607 and Purdue at 6:28.871.
"I'm really proud of our guys, they had an awesome season," said assistant coach Phil Kleiman, a 2008 alumnus. "We set a goal of going undefeated this year, and even though we came up one race short against Princeton last week, we rebounded well from that race and finished the season on a high mark at the Dad Vail. Our second freshmen eight had an impressive year as well, and they helped push the first boat to reach its potential. It was great working with this group of rowers, they will be immediate contributors at the varsity level."
UD also had three other crews advance to Saturday's semi-final racing.
The freshmen/novice heavyweight eight finished third, the varsity lightweight four finished fourth and the varsity heavyweight eight finished sixth in semifinal racing.
Following the Dad Vail Regatta victory, UD's varsity lightweight eight jumped to fifth place in the USRowing collegiate poll national rankings, tied with Columbia University. Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Princeton round out the top four places, but UD ranked ahead of other top 10 schools Dartmouth, MIT, UPenn and Purdue.
The Hens will compete in the lightweight four event at the American Collegiate Rowing Association national championship, to be held in Gainesville, Ga., May 25-26.
Photos by Row2k.com