Crew team rows to respectable finishes at ACRA Nationals in Tennessee
Club rowing programs across the United States made a splash at Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn., over the weekend, site of the first American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) National Championships since 2019.
Liberty University’s crew team entered four boats — Men’s and Women’s Novice 4s and Men’s and Women’s Doubles — that competed in multiple 2,000-meter races over the three-day regatta. Projected thunderstorms held off, but there were headwinds the first two days of racing before tailwinds allowed for much faster times in Sunday’s finals.
“Overall, it was an outstanding three days of rowing for the university,” Liberty Head Coach Debbie Prowse said. “There were a lot of teams in attendance, from colleges and universities as far away as California. We’re on the smaller side, but our rowers held their own, and it was a lot of fun to watch and be a part of.”
The Lady Flames’ Women’s Double tandem of freshmen Kimberly Loutzenheiser (bow seat) and Rachel Teague (stroke) won their Petite Final by nearly 50 seconds over Vanderbilt in 8:56.286. That was the fourth-fastest time overall out of 10 boats entered, faster than three of the boats in the Grand Final — Pittsburgh, Vermont, and Colorado.
“Out of the four boats we took to nationals, the women’s pair actually did the best,” Prowse said. “They made a very good pair together and did amazingly well considering there was no novice category for that race, and they were rowing against people who have several years of experience. I was very proud of them and pleased with their performance. If they had raced in the Grand Final, they might have finished even faster, because they didn’t have anyone to race side-by-side against.”
Liberty’s Women’s Novice 4 boat rowed by freshman Grace Sibert, junior Robin Payton, freshman Jada Lane, and senior Morgan Schaible, and coxed by senior Tim Bentz, finished third in Friday’s time trial finishing in 8 minutes, 50.727 seconds. The Lady Flames then placed fifth in Saturday’s Semifinal 2 in 8:45.146 to qualify for Sunday’s Petite Finals. There, the women rowed past a couple boats in the final 1,000 meters to finish runner-up to Florida State in 8:16.391, and eighth out of 25 boats overall.
“They did very well and had a great race,” Prowse said. “They didn’t get frazzled because they were behind. At the halfway point, they were in fourth place before they made a move. They started walking through Vermont (fourth in 8:28.535) and Rhode Island (third in 8:21.116), taking seat by seat before pulling away from them.”
Liberty’s Men’s Novice 4, powered by junior Clayton Allred, freshman Luke Bayona, senior Zebediah Foster, and freshman David West with sophomore Callie Perini serving as coxswain, recovered from a last-place finish in its heat in 8:12.040 in Friday’s time trials to finish second in Saturday’s Semifinal 3 in 7:49.952. The Flames repeated that feat with a runner-up showing in Sunday’s C Final, crossing the line in 7:25.002, five seconds behind Arizona State (7:20.246) and more than two seconds ahead of Vermont (7:27.730), Central Florida (7:31.682), George Mason (7:34.828), and Northwestern (7:41.328).
“They placed second in that C Final and 14th overall (out of 24 starts), so they had a really nice race and stacked up pretty well,” Prowse said.
Liberty’s Men’s Double, which featured freshmen Blake Mosshat in the bow and Quinon Gresham at stroke, finished fourth in its heat of Friday’s time trial before placing sixth in Saturday’s Semifinal 2 in 9:28.624 and sixth in Sunday’s Petite Final in 9:03.982.
“They did place 12th overall and felt they could have done better as far as navigating the course and steering,” Prowse said. “You’ve got to be your own coxswain while you’re rowing, so it’s a tough race, and they did very well and improved so much since the first time stepped in that pair together.”
Complete results are available online.
Looking to attract new novice rowers to complement the returning team members, who will now be classified as varsity, Prowse plans to hold recruiting events in August including a “Cookies, Coffee, and Crew” meeting at the Hancock Welcome Center on the first Wednesday of classes..
“Hopefully, we’ll get kids out learning about crew before tryouts that Thursday at the Liberty Natatorium or Indoor Track,” Prowse said. “We want our varsity team members to be able to come back and start rowing and getting water time in with the people they’ll be racing with. We take our time with the novice rowers, and don’t just throw them into the water. It’s all about team building and having those role models for the newcomers.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer