On Wednesday, May 5 the rowing team left for Philadelphia with a record 41 rowers and coxswains. This would not be the only record broken by LU crew this season. The Dad Vail Championship Regatta is the largest collegiate regatta in the nation and has been held since 1939. Annually, races include many crews from Division I universities such as Purdue, St. Joseph’s, and Duke as well as smaller DII/III universities like Marietta and Rollins. The 2004 regatta got off to an early start on Friday with the varsity women’s 4+, who competed strong, placing 27/44 overall with a time of 8:32.9s. The novices also raced well: the novice women’s 8+ placed 27/30 with a time of 7:41.2s while the novice men’s 8+ finished at 7:02.7s, placing them 25/28. The varsity women’s 8+ were heavy contenders and advanced to repechage – something no LU women’s varsity boat has ever done – where they finished 18/24 with a time of 7:30.6s.
For the first time in LU history, not one, but two boats broke into semifinals. The novice women’s 4+ (Lutz, Cornelius, Ragsdale, Nockleby) were the first to accomplish this goal. They dominated the competition and placed 11/45 with a time of 7:48.6s. The lightweight varsity men’s 4+ (Steward, Schnettler, Burke, Lindholm, Gordon) attacked all boats in their path, finishing with a time of 6:55.9s to end the day.
The entire team is proud of the accomplishments they have made this year. At the Midwest Championships all LU teams were good contenders with UW-Madison boats: almost all boats advanced to petite or grand finals at the regatta. Here, the lightweight men’s 4+ placed third. And while the novice women’s 4+ didn’t medal, they provoked a reaction from a Madison rower after getting passed: “Who the hell is Lawrence?!” The Madison women’s crew team, one of the top 10 teams in the nation, is not accustomed to getting passed, much less by a club sport from a DIII school.
For the rowing team, the present is bright, but the future is even brighter. The team bids farewell and good luck to their six graduating seniors, whose presence will be missed. These seniors had a large role in building the team to where it now stands, a daunting task no doubt. They have run the team through thick and thin, have been coaches, captains, athletes, and friends. Most importantly, no matter how tough things got, they never gave up, because they knew Lawrence held the potential to have a good rowing club.
Their work is beginning to pay off, with race results, team size, and new equipment. For this, LURC is grateful. Now, an unusually large and talented novice team, coupled with the current skilled varsity members, holds great potential for upcoming years. There is utmost confidence that these rowers can maintain the legacy that has been instilled for them. The potential to become a good rowing club has been reached; LU crew is now standing on the threshold of greatness.
The rowing team would like to thank the student body and faculty for their continuing support. Without campus-wide support through Erg-a-Thon and Rent-a-Rower, LU crew would not be able to compete as fiercely as they currently do. The team extends immense gratitude to LUCC for the recent allocations towards a new shell, and looks forward to the many finish lines they will cross as they continue to spread Lawrence’s name throughout the rowing world.