Flames' three boats fare respectably in fall's first regatta
October 5, 2013 | Pittsburgh, Pa.
Passion and team spirit was evident on Liberty University's crew team for Saturday's season-opening Head of the Ohio regatta near Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Flames' Men's Varsity Open 4 competed first and had the best all-around showing for Liberty, finishing seventh out of 14 boats in 17 minutes, 28.09 seconds.
"They all crossed the line and kind of gave a fist pump," first-year coach Sarah Morris said. "They were really excited about the race. They were exhausted, but extremely happy and proud. They did really well. That was the best rowing I'd seen from them yet. It was good to see."
Host Pittsburgh's "A" team won that race in 15:54.20, followed by Maryland, Marietta, Duquesne, and Pittsburgh's "B" and "C" teams. Liberty finished just six-tenths of a second ahead of the eighth-place team from Greater Columbus (Ohio).
"Joel Buckhalt and Robert Newman performed well as captains," Morris said of the returning rowers. "Previously, they had been in the bow of the boat, and now they're in the front setting the pace."
They helped their teammates set goals for the season and realize how much heart and energy will be required of them in order to meet those goals.
Sam Knauss and Peter Eleutheriou also stepped into leadership roles while coxswain Tayor Hardin did an admirable job of steering the crew as the Flames passed four boats, launched at 15-second intervals, along the 5,000-meter course.
"Her passion was really motivating," Morris said.
In the second race of the day involving a team from Liberty, the Women's Varsity Open 4 placed 18th out of 27 boats in 19:20.35. That race featured a tight finish with each of the top four boats separated by two seconds, led by West Virginia (17:41.41), Marietta's "A" boat (17:43.04), Duquesne's "C" boat (17:45.42) and Duquesne's "A" boat (17:47.94).
"The women's varsity four had a lot tougher competition, but they had really good time and they were really excited," Morris said. "It was definitely a good start to the season, to see where we are, and to set new goals as we head toward the Head of the Charles," Oct. 19 in Boston, the largest crew regatta in the United States.
Finally, in the Men's Collegiate Novice 4, the Flames crossed the finish line ninth out of 11 boats in 19:55.97, a full four minutes after the first-place boat from Marietta's "A" team (15:55.63).
"They had a really good row, with very clean rowing," Morris said. "They were just not fast enough.
"The timing and rhythm was dead on today on all three boats," she added. "They really nailed that. We just need to get stronger and clean up some technicalities. If we can get a few things cleaned up on our stroke and be stronger in the water, we'll do a lot better for the Head of the Charles. It's going to take some work, but now we know what we need to fix before we get there."
Complete results from Saturday's Head of the Ohio are available online.