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    May 17, 2022 Huddleston, Va. RSS |

    Rowing into this Friday’s through Sunday’s ACRA National Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Liberty University’s men’s and women’s crew teams are preparing to peak for the final regatta of the spring season, when they both will enter one Novice 4 boat and one double.

    “There will definitely be more competition than we have faced before this season, with teams coming from as far away as Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Michigan, and New Hampshire,” Liberty Head Coach Debbie Prowse said. “We feel we’re going to be competitive all around in all the categories.”

    Temperatures are projected to reach the lower-90-degree range all three days, so Prowse is preparing her rowers to stay hydrated.

    Rowers Clayton Allred, a junior, freshman Luke Bayona, senior Zebediah Foster, and freshman David West will power the Men’s Novice 4, with sophomore Callie Perini serving as coxswain,.

    Meanwhile, freshman Grace Sibert, junior Robin Payton, freshman Jada Lane, senior Morgan Schaible, and senior Tim Bentz (coxswain) will represent the Women’s Novice 4.

    “We have had a really good last few weeks of training once we ironed out our lineups, and solid preparation for the upcoming races, rowing in some crosswinds and headwinds and tailwinds,” Prowse said, noting that they will race as many as three or four times over the three-day weekend on the fully-buoyed, six-lane, 2,000-meter course on Melton Hill Lake, where the Flames and Lady Flames competed for last month’s SIRA Championships. “The rowers already have a visual of the course and the coxswains have raced there previously, so they know what to expect.”

    Liberty’s Men’s Double will feature freshman Blake Mosshat in the bow and freshman Quinon Gresham at stroke. The Women’s Double will have freshman Kimberly Loutzenheiser in the bow seat and freshman Rachel Teague in the stroke.

    “These will be our first races of the year in the pairs, so it will be a new challenge for them, but they are ready for it,” Prowse said. “The bow person has to be aware and be looking behind for safety reasons as well as ahead for steering purposes, to make sure they are going as straight as possible on the course. They have to bring the power, but also be smart and focused. They can’t just blindly row.”

    They will arrive in Oak Ridge on Thursday afternoon and practice that night before racing begins on Friday.

    Both Novice 4s and the Men’s Double will race in fields of approximately 25 boats with the Women’s Double competing against a dozen or so. Unlike at SIRAs, they will all be from club programs.

    Women’s Novice 4 time trials start at 11:45 a.m. Friday before Men’s Novice 4s start at 12:17 p.m. and Women’s and Men’s Doubles begin at 2:20 p.m., with the top two boats in each heat advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. Friday’s trials will be followed by repechages starting at 4:24 p.m., when boats have a second chance to make the semifinals cut.

    Saturday’s Semifinals and C, D, and E Finals and Sunday’s Petite and Grand Finals will be livestreamed on the ACRA YouTube channel. The complete race schedule is available online.

    In the weeks leading up to the postseason regattas, Club Sports Director of Video & Media Patrick Strawn traveled to Smith Mountain Lake before sunrise to catch up with the Flames and Lady Flames and witness how they approach their early-morning practices, putting microphones on the men’s and women’s 8 boats’ coxswains and Prowse.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media