The men’s and women’s crew teams kicked off the season on Sunday, Oct. 6 at the Textile River Regatta in Lowell, Mass. Each squad was able to effectively execute its game plan over the 3.5-mile course in order to bring the hardware back to Middletown.
“I think that as a whole, the team did really well this weekend,” said women’s captain Kayla Cloud ’14. “Across the board, the men’s and women’s teams showed up with the right attitude and went out and raced.”
In the Men’s Club 8 category, the Redbirds brought home the gold in 19:18.917 with a team of Sam Factor ’14, Ben Record ’15, Noah Solomon ’14, Chris Nanda ’16, Mike Queenan ’17, Nick Petrillo ’14, Peter Martin ’14, Ethan Currie ’15, and coxswain Max Dietz ’16. They were able to narrowly edge out a Worcester Polytechnic Institute crew for the fastest time of the day by just under two seconds. The Cardinals also had boats placing fourth and twelfth out of fifteen teams.
“The team is off to a great start, primarily due to some excellent work done in the off season,” said Men’s Head Coach Phil Carney. “Guys worked hard this summer, and it is clear. At the Textile Regatta, every boat performed well. We saw in the racing the same things that we see daily in practice, and that is a goal we strive for.”
As for the Open 8 entry, the Cardinals continued their streak of success as the team came in second out of twelve teams. The silver medal Open team was almost identical in make-up to the gold medal Club squad, with just the additions of cox Andie Kleeman ’16 and rower Stephen MacNeille ’15 instead of Factor. The team came in with a time of 19:41.4, trailing Merrimac River Rowing by more than ten seconds.
The men’s team also entered a boat in the Open 4 section, taking fifth of sixteen entries with a time of 22:45.3. They were able to edge out NESCAC rival Bowdoin by approximately two seconds but were slower than a fourth-placing Tufts team by less than three seconds.
“It was great to see the top guys be competitive with the best crews at this regatta, and to repeat their win in the Club 8 from last year,” Carney said. “We graduated a number of important guys, and having a successful start was important to our team. We have had a number of guys come through at a higher level than they did last year, as we expect.”
The women’s team also started the season off with a bang, overcoming equipment issues to secure first place in the Women’s Club 8 section.
“The team performed extremely well last weekend,” said Women’s Head Coach Pat Tynan. “Our varsity boat won its event over strong crews from WPI and Holy Cross. Both of those teams beat us last year so it was satisfying to be at the front of that pack.”
Led by senior captains Cloud and Clare Doyle, the team of Ava Miller-Lewis ’17, Remy Johnson ’16, Annie Dade ’16, Emma Koramshahi ’16, graduate student Emily Johnson, and Emilie Sinkler ’14 with cox Brianne Wiemann ’15 finished the race in a time of 21:44.284. This time was good enough to beat a WPI group by over six seconds. Along with the gold, the Wesleyan women were also able to grab fourth and fifth place in the event with coxswains Hannah Korevaar ’14 and Abigail Gruppuso ’16.
“Personally, I was amped,” said Cloud. “Winning is the best way to start a season. I remember Clare turning around in the boat after the race and just saying, ‘Kayla, I think we did it. I think we won.’ There’s nothing like putting in the work and getting something like that out of it.”
The women’s win was especially impressive because it was the first time Miller-Lewis had rowed with the rest of the team in competition.
“In the years I’ve spent rowing, the varsity eight has always had at least one first-year in it,” Cloud said. “Every season is different, and it always takes time to get in tune with the rest of your boat, regardless of experience or class year. It speaks to the level of skill and performance of our program that we can do so well with the changes we have to make every season, and almost every week. You really have to earn your spot.”
In the Open 4 Section, the Wesleyan women showed their depth, as they were able to take fourth and fourteenth out of nineteen teams with times of 25:29.1 and 27:54.8.
“Kate Davis [’16] and Erin Deleon [’17] had their first experience racing a fall head race,” Tynan said. “They both did an outstanding job steering as short a course as possible.”
Both crew teams will look to carry their momentum over into their next race, which will be held at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20. The men will try to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish, racing the top crews in the country.
“As always, we are working hard toward better strength and fitness, and with the relatively smaller stature of the team, we will need to row technically better than our opponents to win,” Carney said.
Despite the women’s success this past weekend, they are focused on getting better rather than basking in the glory of their prior success.
“There are always things to improve,” Cloud said. “Coming away from this race, I know that we’re determined and we have the aggression to make it all the way across the finish line; it’s just a matter of execution.”