Flames' rowers face top-caliber competition at Knecht Cup
April 14, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's crew teams rowed against some of the top men's club teams in the country and a predominantly NCAA Division I women's field Saturday in the prestigious Knecht Cup held on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.
"This regatta is one of the most competitive ones going up north," Liberty head coach Ryan Hurley said. "It was definitely good for the kids. It pushed them to their limits to have to row as hard as they can just to stay in the race. It let us see where we're at and gives us something to shoot for going forward."
Conditions were excellent for the 2,000-meter races, with sunny skies and a bit of a tail wind.
Liberty's women's freshmen/novice four, which included coxswain Krystal Baines and rowers Catherine Dyer, Anouk Beuerle, Taylor Sherman, Kate Powell, missed moving onto Sunday's B final by only 0.9 seconds.
"They definitely had the strongest showing of the day," Hurley said. "They were the fastest club entry in the whole field and actually knocked off two Division I boats."
The Lady Flames won their heat by more than 18 seconds in 8 minutes, 41.40 seconds, taking 14th out of 33 boats.
In a second race, the same team placed 10th out of 18 boats in 8:22.90. The women's lightweight four, meanwhile, placed seventh out of 10 boats in 8:35.13.
"They all rowed their hearts out," Hurley said. "We're working our way up to that level of competition. Next week, at the SIRA Championship (in Oak Ridge, Tenn.) we should be in the thick of a lot of those races."
On the men's side, the varsity four team of coxswain Taylor Hardin and rowers Mitch Dieudonne, Connor Houston, Joel Buckhalt, Robert Newman finished fourth in their heat and eighth out of 11 teams altogether in 7:40.13.
"They didn't move on, but they definitely put up a good fight," Hurley said.
Liberty's men's lightweight eight will be competing in a five-boat final on Sunday morning, accounting for the Flames' 10th entry in the two-day event. That team, too, will be put to the test.
"Three of the boats they'll be facing are ranked in the top 15 in the nation," Hurley said of Fordham (11th), Mercyhurst (13th), and Delaware (15th). "There are a lot of freshmen filling out that boat, so it'll be an introduction to lightweight rowing."
The Flames came in fifth in that final event in 7:31.40.
A week after competing against some of the best teams on the Atlantic Coast, Liberty should make some strides next week in Tennessee.
"Knowing what we saw here, the SIRA regatta will be a whole lot less daunting," Hurley said. "There will be somewhere around 30 to 35 schools there as well, but they will be more attainable teams, not quite as many powerhouses."