This past Saturday, Oct. 26, Wesleyan rowers were all vying for mounted fish heads. Yes, it’s that time of the year, when the Head of the Fish Regatta gives out trophies with animal crowns on them. Each level of the team found success at the competition, whether it was the novice, junior varsity, or varsity category.
The men’s team led the way in the varsity eight division, where they captured a title by beating out rivals such as WPI, Middlebury, Tufts, and Williams. The team was identical to the crew from the Head of Charles Regatta, featuring Ethan Currie ’15, Sam Factor ’14, Peter Martin ’14, Chris Nanda ’16, Nick Petrillo ’14, Mike Queenan ’17, Ben Record ’15, Noah Solomon ’14, and cox Andie Kleeman ’16.
“The varsity eight did a great job,” said men’s Head Coach Phil Carney. “At the last two regattas, the conditions were not helpful, but they handled the high wind and rough water very well. They are a tenacious crew and have had a great fall season.”
The two junior varsity boats also put in a good showing, coming out with a runner-up position as well as a seventh-place finish.
“In our second boat, we were a little disappointed to finish second, as we had an oar break 800 meters into the event,” Carney said. “The oarsmen stayed focused and rowed a terrific race, and to finish second under those circumstances was remarkable. The third boat raced extremely well also, placing in front of many teams’ second crews. There has been great improvement in this crew all fall, and the winter will help them a great deal.”
After experiencing a setback so early in the race, the second boat was able to put its blinders on and concentrate throughout the rest of the competition.
“Despite a broken oar and a hectic start, the boat maintained an impressive level of focus during the race,” said Nat Warner ’17. “Ultimately, the season of training paid off and we came in second, just three seconds behind Boston College.”
The novice boat also shined, finishing with a 15th-place performance in its rowers’ first competitive experience. Most of the rowers in this category are walk-ons, who have little to no prior involvement in the sport.
“Our novice boat was made up of guys who had never raced before,” Carney said. “This was a strong debut, and we know that many other programs have their experienced first-year rowers in these boats. The members of the novice crew will join the varsity men for winter training and will compete for our top three crews in the spring.”
The women’s varsity eight boat raced up to their expectations, as they crossed the finish line in second place, behind the University of Massachusetts.
“We really weren’t talking about the other crews in the race and wanted to focus on the execution of our race strategy from a physical and technical standpoint,” said women’s Head Coach Pat Tynan. “Physically, we knew that a very strong second half of the race would be an improvement over our performance at the Head of the Charles. Technically, we had been working on some things the week prior and wanted to be sure that those were carried over into a racing environment.”
In the junior varsity category, the Cardinals kept up their fortunes by taking home third and fifth place with their A and B boats. This time, Williams was able to defeat Wesleyan, winning the race.
“Our second boat had a strong performance, missing second place by three-tenths of a second to UMass,” Tynan said. “This crew loves to race and they push the varsity boat everyday in practice. Avery Mushinski [’15] is an experienced stroke, the person who sets the pace for the rest of the crew, and she really knows how to push strong no matter what the conditions are. They did a nice job of applying the technical changes worked on this week.”
The women also entered two novice boats that earned third and twelfth place, respectively.
“This was the first time the novice crews had raced in a competitive environment,” Tynan said. “They did a great job with what I call ‘race day management.’ There is so much to keep track of and get right from being on the bus on time, to making sure the shell is assembled properly, to actually racing for the first time.”
The women also entered a boat in the varsity four race, in which they came out with a 15th-place finish. A team from William Smith College won the section, making easy work of the field.
The men’s crew team has a long offseason ahead of them, during which the Cards will have to prepare intensely for the spring season.
“This has been a really fun fall season for us, with a lot of success racing,” Carney said. “We have also gotten a great deal of work in outside of the boats, and that is critical. Our success this spring will be largely determined by the quantity and quality of the work that the athletes do between November 1 and February 15. One of our team’s greatest attributes in the work is the ethos they possess, and I know it will serve them well over the next three to four months.”
The women rowers are also relying on training and dedication to help row their way to a successful spring.
“The off-season is all about physiology, and we plan to work on that,” Tynan said. “Success in the fall doesn’t always guarantee success in the spring. I’m looking forward to the rowers developing physically and mentally this winter. Any athlete simply wants to see progress.”