Fall Sports Preview: Title in tow, crew eyes Georgetown

With an Atlantic 10 title under its belt, the GW men’s crew team is focused on two things: defending its title and beating Georgetown.

“We have no greater rival than Georgetown,” said coach Gene Kininmonth. “Last year they beat both our freshmen and varsity crews. I hated losing to Georgetown. This year we will do everything possible to turn it around.”

The crew team will get its chance at the Head of the Charles in Boston October 21. GW is the underdog in the Georgetown-GW rivalry. In 42 seasons, the GW men’s team has beaten Georgetown’s varsity crew just five times.
“One of our main goals is to defend the Atlantic 10 championship we won for the first time last year,” Kininmonth said.

Next week, the crew teams will hold tryouts where Kininmonth is expecting almost 80 freshmen to show. About 30 will be invited for practice as part of the team. Kininmonth expects to set the roster in about a month, and by then he said at least a dozen freshmen will have either been cut or will have quit the team.

Crew teams typically hit the water – in this case the Potomac River – six days a week at 6:25 a.m. Kinimonth said many freshmen struggle with the adjustment to college life, let alone waking up for 6 a.m. practices.

“At first glance this year’s freshmen class appears to be the strongest in years,” Kininmonth said. “I think we are becoming a lot more successful attracting better athletes.”

The men go through an intensive training program in the fall before their first competition in September. The freshmen and varsity squads have similar practice schedules. They are also assigned a weight-lifting regiment they are expected to follow.

“By Christmas, these students will be more fit and stronger than they have ever been in their lives.” Senior captain John Creedon is confident in the men’s ability to repeat last year’s A-10 performance.

“Among other things, we can take A-10’s this year,” Creedon said. “(We can) have a strong showing in the National Championship in late May. We have a (freshman) class that is the best I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Along with that the alumni are engaged and fully supportive of us.”

The GW women’s crew team islooking to rebound from the Sprints League competition they struggled in last spring. It is the toughest league in the country, women’s head coach Steve Peterson said, because it contains strong Ivy League competition from top rowing schools including Princeton University and Harvard University. It also contains strong non-Ivy schools such as Boston University and Syracuse University.

“We had a successful season leading into the Eastern Sprints,” Peterson said. “However, for one reason or another, (we) did not perform well at the Sprints. We had the talent and we rowed well enough, we just didn’t execute as well as we could.”

The GW women’s crew team looks to win the A-10 team trophy, which was won last year by the University of Massachusetts. The team has placed second behind UMass for the past six years. The women also said they hope to finish in the top eight at the Eastern Sprints in the spring.

“I am very excited for the upcoming year,” Peterson said. “Last year’s freshmen class was one of the strongest ever for GW, and I am excited to have them back this year, to add to the upper classes.”

The women’s crew team will compete in the Head of Charles competition in Boston in late October and at the Princeton Chase following that race.

“Those two races will give us a good idea of where we stand going into the spring,” said Peterson. “They often times will be the major basis for the pre-season rankings.”

The Colonials also recently added a GW alumna and former graduate assistant to the coaching staff. Samantha Byrd replaces Angela Hart as assistant coach, Peterson announced Aug 1. Byrd will be responsible for coaching the women’s novice team.

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