Navy Crew captures rainy GW Invite

The rain that fell over the Potomac River and the 19th annual GW Invitational Crew Classic did not deter the men’s crew team from rowing to a fourth-place finish Saturday. The Naval Academy took first place, followed by Georgetown and Virginia, the 2005 winner.

The Colonials entered all four races at the regatta and qualified for the finals in the second novice eight and novice eight, while making it to the petite race in the second varsity eight and varsity eight.

“I think the (novice), once again, did a fantastic job,” first-year head coach Greg Myhr said. “They’re up against a little faster competition than they were in the last couple weeks. They’re not a terribly powerful groups of guys, but they’re very ‘racy,’ for lack of a better term.”

“Our results were decent,” freshman James Hacker said. “We were shooting for first or second, though. Navy and Georgetown are both two very competitive teams. They’re part of a very heavyweight division. They’re bigger teams than us. It felt quick, just not fast enough.”

The Midshipmen were awarded both the Hood Trophy for obtaining the most overall points and the Carr Bowl for posting the fastest time in the varsity eight. The other finishers were Saint Joseph’s, Marietta (Ohio), the University of Southern California and the University of Cincinnati, which finished behind GW in that order.

“There just wasn’t the power today,” freshman Michael Pieniazek said. “Georgetown and Navy are both big, strong crews and we’re a light crew.”

Added Hacker, “I didn’t feel like we lost the race as much as they won it.”

Although traditionally featuring both men’s and women’s events, this year’s Crew Classic featured only the former. Instead, the GW women’s team traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to participate in the Lake Wheeler Invitational.

The regatta was the Colonials’ first opportunity to race on their home course, the Potomac River, a stretch of water the team has become accustomed to. Beyond daily practices in both the fall and spring, the men’s squad opted to remain in Washington during spring break to prepare for upcoming races. In January, they also traveled to Augusta, Ga., during winter break for additional training.

The first regatta of the spring season found the Colonials 10th in a field of 27 at the Murphy Cup, held in Philadelphia in March. The race results can be used to measure future success.

“Varsity keeps getting better,” Myhr said. “We’re not where we want to be but not where we’re going to be by the end. They had a good race in their heats. They were up against stronger crews, but I think those crews can be caught the rest of the year.”

The Colonials head north next weekend to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to face the Badgers and the University of Minnesota. The race in Minnesota will be GW’s final road regatta of the regular season, as they return to the Potomac to race Bucknell, North Carolina, Georgetown and Gonzaga in individual regattas.

“The team’s progress is going the right way,” Myhr said. “I think, for right now, if we can get an invitation to the national championships, that’s what we’re hoping for.”

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