GW crew-ses to second at A-10s

The GW women’s crew team turned in a solid second-place finish in Saturday’s Atlantic 10 Rowing Championships, led by a novice squad that brought home three gold trophies after winning all of its races.

The Colonials entered the race ranked first in the A-10 but finished the nine-race event on the Cooper River in Collingswood, N.J., with 40 points, nine points behind first-place Massachusetts and 14 points ahead of third-place finishers Dayton and St. Joseph’s. The Minutewomen’s victory was its fifth championship in as many years.

The Colonials did leave with one honor, however, as Coach Steve Peterson was named the A-10 Coach of the Year by his fellow conference coaches.

The GW novice team won the novice eight B final (8:04.8) almost 31 seconds ahead of UMass and beat out Dayton by seven-tenths of a second in the novice four final.

In the second-to-last race of the day, GW won the novice eight A final (7:26.7) – the race composed of the team’s eight most powerful novice crew members – by 22.4 seconds over UMass. The novice team victories picked up 18 points for GW.

We went in with high hopes, said novice coach Angela Hart, who was tossed into the river by her athletes after the three-race sweep. And they were very excited to beat UMass by as much as they did.

The novice eight A team’s victory was actually its second of the day, as GW won a qualifying race over Rhode Island and Fordham early in the morning that gave the Colonials an advantageous middle-lane position in the actual race. UMass won the other qualifying face-off, positioning themselves next to GW.

It was hard to put into words how proud I was of them, Hart said of her team.

The No. 21-ranked varsity eight was not able to overcome UMass as the Minutewomen (6:51.5) edged the Colonials (6:55.7) by 4.2 seconds in the final race of the day. The team’s second varsity eight (7:37.2) also finished in second place behind UMass.

I am honored to be selected as Coach of the Year by the other head coaches, Peterson said. But I would have much rather won the team trophy. The athletes have been working hard to beat UMass, and this year looked like we could finally be able to knock them off the top. We just got beat in some key events, namely the varsity and the second varsity eight.

The Colonials placed third in the opening quad final, composed of one lightweight novice rower and three varsity members. This was the only event that allowed the rowers to compete in another race after the quad final was completed. GW’s lightweight four final finished in fourth, only six seconds behind third-place Duquesne. GW’s varsity four placed sixth, less than two seconds in back of Dayton. UMass pulled out four second-place finishes in addition to its three victories.

GW did not have enough eligible rowers – eight crew members under 130 pounds – to compete in the lightweight eight final, despite the fact that the women’s lightweight eight is ranked No. 19 in the nation. In that race, St. Joseph’s handily defeated UMass in a two-team competition. The Minutewomen picked up five crucial points in that race for simply competing.

This loss will hurt us a little in the rankings, but we still have a shot at going to the NCAAs, Peterson said. We have two weeks now to focus on our race with Princeton and Georgetown, then a week after it is on to the Eastern Sprints Championship. These will be critical for us if we are going to get an NCAA bid.

Crew Notes:

o The Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges Coaches Poll came out this week. The GW women’s varsity eight is ranked No. 11 in the east. The second varsity eight is ranked No. 17 in its poll, and the novice eight is ranked No. 13.

* The GW men’s crew team also finished second at the A-10s behind first-place St. Joseph’s.

We felt that with the caliber of the competition, that this was certainly a race that we had the ability to win, senior captain Justin Hutchinson said. St. Joe’s deserves credit for a good race, but I feel like we let this one slip away. The letdown of not racing at the GW Invitational last weekend (canceled due to the protests) may have hurt our practice intensity this last week and contributed to our less-than-ideal performance.

Next week the GW men will race for the Kerr Cup in Philadelphia and will face a competitive University of Virginia crew that beat the Colonials April 2.

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