The parking lot attendants grimaced as the early morning rain stung their faces, but men’s crew head coach Greg Myhr was smiling from ear to ear as he walked around the Thompson Rowing Center along the Potomac River Saturday.
GW’s rowing teams hosted the 22nd annual George Washington Invitational Regatta last weekend, finishing sixth out of 12 teams, behind winner Navy.
Myhr knew that no matter how well his team performed, the regatta would be a feather in the cap of the GW rowing program,
“Hosting a home race, for any team, requires more logistical work than traveling,” said Myhr. “That said, the advantages of competing at home enormously outweigh this. Our athletes are familiar with the race course and the facilities, and having a home crowd of literally hundreds of people supporting and cheering for them makes this one of the highlights of their season every year.”
Indeed, familiarity would prove to be a powerful weapon in GW’s arsenal, as the team was tested again and again over the course of two days against top-level crews such as Cornell, Georgetown and Navy.
The weekend competition was organized in a three heat, round-robin format so each crew would get the chance to face each other in more direct competition. In the 68 races over the two-day period, GW’s men’s second freshman eights enjoyed two open water victories over Georgetown, and the top two men’s boats each defeated College of the Holy Cross.
However, the men’s team faltered in its race against Cornell and was barely edged out by the 11-time champion Midshipmen, losing on the first varsity level by three-tenths of a second.
“I was very pleased with how the team performed,” said Myhr. “We’re still very new to this league, and we knew we were the underdogs in our races against Cornell and Navy. However, our men pushed very hard in each of these races.”
Stiff competition in the women’s bracket came from all sides, forcing the Colonials out of position. Women’s crews from Columbia, MIT and Colgate turned in top times throughout the weekend. But with the women’s team headed to the Atlantic 10 championships next weekend, coach Robert McCracken remains optimistic about the weekend and its long-term implications.
“One of our goals this year was to move up in the overall standings,” said McCracken. “Next week, we hope to medal which would be a great step for our program, especially as we’re looking to expand.”
Despite an overall sixth place finish in the point totals behind Navy, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown and Saint Joseph’s, the weekend was a success in terms of promoting GW’s visibility as a top-tier, competitive program.