Bucknell Men’s Crew kicked off the 2017-2018 campaign at the 53rd annual Head of the Charles Regatta last weekend. While the team usually has one home race under their belts before the Charles, this year saw especially low water levels at home on the Susquehanna due to maintenance work with the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam, so a home race was out of the cards this fall. The team was eager to race at the Head of the Charles, and start the year off strong. Bucknell brought a larger contingent of rowers this year than in recent years past, racing a Club 8 on Saturday, and a Collegiate 8 and Collegiate 4 on Sunday. In addition to the undergraduate crews there were many alumni in attendance and competing on the course, with a Bucknell entry in the Men’s Alumni 8, and other alumni scattered through nine additional events over the weekend.
The weather could not have been better, with light winds, sunny skies, and highs in the mid 70’s all weekend. The alumni 8 kicked off the official Bucknell entries for the weekend with a solid race, and a 26th place finish out of 50 crews. Up next for the bison was the Club 8. The Club 8 event in recent years has evolved into an extremely competitive event. While it used to be clubs and collegiate club teams racing each other, now just about anyone who wasn’t in the grand final of the IRA in the varsity 8 the previous year can compete. Many ACRA schools have started to adjust, entering the Collegiate events on Sunday instead, but some still enter the Club categories. In order to offer the opportunity of racing at the Charles to more athletes within the program, Bucknell entered the Club 8 again this year. With more entries for the undergraduates than years past, the club 8 was a young crew made up of a few returning rowers and several freshman. The crew raced aggressively, and made progress on recent practices. Ultimately the Bucknell crew was very competitive with the other ACRA programs in the event, finishing 29th out of 36 in a pack that included Boston College, UMASS, Fordham, and WPI. The Bucknell Club 8 was made up of Christian Daugherty ’18, James Koenigsberg ’18, Ryan Wang ’19, Ryan Galli ’21, Liam Gibbons ’21, Nick Bermeo ’21, Phil Thompson ’20, Liam Oakley ’21, and was coxed by Aibhlin Moye-Linehan ’18.
The Club 8 was the last race for Bucknell on Saturday, and on Sunday the team picked things up late in the race schedule with the Collegiate 8. This was the current varsity 8, and the crew was made up of entirely returning rowers. The crew started 11th, based off of last years finish in the Collegiate 8, and got off to a good start. At the first two checkpoints Bucknell was solidly in the top 15. Unfortunately that’s just about when the stroke seat began to suffer severe cramping through his forearms, making it very difficult to hold onto the oar, apply pressure, and maintain the aggressive rhythm that is necessary to finish in the top 10-15 of the Collegiate 8. It was evident from short that the crew was struggling with something as they came around the Eliot Bridge turn. The coxswain, Cami Berlin ’19, had such a good turn that the announcers called her out on it saying it was one of the best courses they’d seen, but the crew was only rowing at about 31.5-32 strokes per minute, while most crews in the fast conditions were in the 33-35 range. Those on land later found out about the cramping. Needless to say, the crew is looking forward to getting back on the race course without cramps, to see how they can compete. Ultimately the Collegiate 8 finished 21st out 37 in an ACRA and Dad Vail studded field, just behind ACRA competitor Grand Valley, and just ahead of last years bronze medalists in the varsity 8 at the Dad Vail, Delaware. The Collegiate 8 was made up of Thomas Marth ’19, Andrew Stonnington ’19, John Leasure ’19, Dillon LaFata ’18, Mike Pallotta ’18, Alex Herman ’20, Gunnar Vorwerk ’19, Ryan McSherry ’19, and was coxed by Cami Berlin ’19.
The last event for the team was the Collegiate 4 event. This was a new event for the team, who has only rowed 8’s at the Head of the Charles in recent memory. The Collegiate 4 is a fun event that sees a lot of entries, and a mixture of teams who either put their best four guys in the boat or put 2nd Varsity 8 or 3rd Varsity 8 rowers in the boat. The Bucknell Collegiate 4 got off to good start, settled into an aggressive rhythm, and quickly found themselves passing crews in front of them, having started 32nd. Then the crew quickly found themselves in one of those traffic jams that all the spectators come to see on the Charles river in October. The crew spent time getting boxed in, passing on the outside of a turn, and ultimately lost a little of the rhythm that they had created early on. While leaving with a good story from Boston, the crew was hoping for a finish better than the 24th out of 40 that they ended up with. The Bucknell Collegiate 4 was made up of Pat Long ’18, Alex Seel ’20, Bobby Subak ’21, Matt LaRouche ’20, and was coxed by Perry Hamilton ’18. This crew, along with the others that raced in Boston this weekend are eager to get back on the course at our second event of the fall next weekend at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. This is the first visit for Bucknell back to the HOSR since the blizzard during the event in 2011. We look forward to seeing you at the big orange tent along the banks of the Schuylkill on Saturday, October 28. Go Bison!