Women's lightweight, novice four row to second, fourth at SIRA
April 21, 2013 | Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Rarely in a 2,000-meter regatta will spectators witness a photo finish like the one Liberty University's Women's Novice 4 was involved in Sunday morning in the Class A Finals at the Southeastern International Regatta Association (SIRA) Championships at Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
"I was standing on the finish line," Liberty head coach Ryan Hurley said. "It was an amazing race. The first boat was four seconds out in front, but it was a tight race for second, third, and fourth place."
The Lady Flames wound up crossing the finish line in 7 minutes, 56.90 seconds, 0.3 seconds after third-place Florida State and 0.6 seconds behind William & Mary, which was the runner-up to Georgia Tech (7:52.30). That was nearly eight seconds faster than their qualifying time of 8:04.70.
"It was really cool," Hurley said. "Liberty's a team you don't hear much about and here they are in a grand final, which is actually I believe the only time a Liberty boat has made a grand final at this regatta. This was a large race, essentially the Southern Regional Championships, and we're putting up performances that are getting noticed by other teams, and the announcers. People are starting to notice us and other schools have to respect us."
Liberty's Women's lightweight varsity four had the highest finish of the day, placing second in its Class A final in 8:07.90, behind only Tampa (8:05.40).
"They had a rough race last race at the Knecht Cup (in Camden, N.J.) and were not happy at all," Hurley said of his foursome. "Today, they came out of their heats in the semis and finished second overall by two seconds off the winner's pace."
For Liberty's men, the varsity four advanced to the Class D final, the first time a men's boat has made it to any final in its fourth year competing at this regatta. The Flames finished fifth out of six boats in 7:18.60, just 0.9 seconds behind Virginia Tech.
"That was another tight race," Hurley said. "In that six-boat final, one through six were all within three seconds of each other. We came out fifth, less than a stone's throw out of first place."
There were more club teams at the SIRA event as opposed to Division I women's programs at the Knecht Cup, where the competition pushed Liberty, preparing it well for this weekend.
"Overall, I think we're all very happy," Hurley said, noting the Flames finished around the middle of the pack in a field of 36 schools. "Every boat that entered was definitely improving from previous races."
Hurley said Purdue and Florida were two of the dominant teams at the SIRA regatta, and the Flames compared favorably to longer-established teams such as William & Mary and Virginia Tech.
Liberty will host Virginia Tech, Hurley's former team, in its only dual meet of the year at Ivy Lake next Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
"Ivy Lake can only host a 1,000-meter race, but it will be best of two out of three, so it should be a fun day," Hurley said, noting 2,000 meters is the standard spring race course. "Those (1,000-meter races) will be real sprints."
He said the team is gearing up for the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, Pa., on May 11-12, the same weekend as Liberty's graduation.
"The Dad Vail will be our first real major race," Hurley said. "That's going to be a select herd (of crew teams). Today, we were able to throw some lineups together, to see how we do in this field to see if we're ready for the next level of competition.
"The men's varsity four showed they have some work to do, but they can make some big strides before Dad Vail," he added. "The women's novice four and lightweight four demonstrated they're ready to show what they've got."
At Oak Ridge, Liberty also raced its Men's Novice 8, Women's Novice 8, Men's Lightweight 4, though none were able to advance to finals.