Bucknell Men come back from Dad Vail and ECAC Championships with 3 Medals

The Bucknell Men began 2015’s championship season last weekend at the Dad Vail and ECAC National Invitation Regattas.  Being one of the few teams to compete in both championships in the same weekend, the Bison knew they were in for a challenging weekend, but came away with some exciting results.

The Dad Vail Regatta came first, held on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, PA.   Despite some hot temperatures, conditions proved to be almost perfect for both days, with flat water and only moderate winds.

The Varsity Four was the first event of the Dad Vail.  With almost 60 boats entered, accurate seeding was almost impossible, and the Bison drew a very tough heat.  The young crew never quite settled into an effective rhythm and they would finish back in fourth place.  They were disappointed by the result, but emboldened by the fact that they could make up for it on Sunday at the ECAC.  The varsity four was made up of Nick Barpoulis ’17, Cameron Williams ’18, Christian Daugherty ’18, Victor Young ’17, and was coxed by Perry Hamilton ’18.

The Varsity Pair was the next race of the day, and needed to place in the top 3 to advance to the semi-finals the next day.  The pair started very well, surging out to a slight lead in the first quarter of the race.  Two crews managed to push out a margin over the Bison, but they held firm with third place Ohio State.  A very tight battle developed between Bucknell and Ohio State for the 3rd place position in the heat and with less than 200m to go the Bison had gained a small advantage.  But in the last strokes of the race the stroke seat’s seat jumped the track, causing the stroke to fall off his seat.  The mishap was short, but caused the pair to finish in fourth.  The Varsity pair was made up of Michael Birosak ’18 and James Boothe ’18.

The Freshmen Eight was up next.  They advanced out of their morning heat, finishing second to Purdue into a challenging semi-final with Drexel, Pittsburgh, and Army, where they would need to finish in the top 2 to advance.  The 1F started slowly, but managed to quickly fall into a rhythm, and moved back up through the field.  Although the racing was tight through the first 1000 meters, by the last 500 meters the 1F had opened up a length lead on Pitt and Army.  That margin would hold to the finish, and the Bison would only finish behind Drexel.  In the final Drexel and Delaware went charging off the line and quickly opened up a lead on the rest of the field, but Bucknell found itself in a fight with Virginia and Purdue for third place.  Coming into the last 750 meters, the Bison were just under half a length down on Virginia, but started to move back up on them.  In the last 5 strokes of the race, the Bison surged ahead to finish with the bronze medal.  Purdue would later be awarded a tie for third place, due to interference from another crew on the water.  The Freshmen Eight was made up of Pat Long ‘18, James Koenigsberg ‘18, John Gleason ’18, Dylan O’Connor ‘18, Luke Goodwin, Ben Claytor ‘18, Rich Nicolaides ’18, Shawn Gilhooley ‘18, and was coxed by Nick Asaro ‘18.  This marked the third time in school history Bucknell made the final of the Freshman 8 at the Dad Vail, and second time the program left with a medal.

The 2nd Varsity Eight moved well through their morning heat, placing second just behind Drexel and ahead of Grand Valley State.  They had to work much harder in their semi-final, however.  Facing off against Temple, Virginia, and nemesis St. Josephs, the race proved to be a fast one, with all four crews attacking each other early.  After 500 meters into the race the 2V sat in 4th place, a few seats down on the field.  The 2V started a slow march back up into the field.  With 500 meters to go the 2V had moved back ahead of St. Joe’s, and put themselves into a qualifying spot for the final.  In the final Drexel, Temple, Virginia, Michigan, and the Bison all went off quickly, with Drexel and Temple slowly pushing out a small margin on the field.  A tough fight emerged again for the bronze medal position.  Michigan made a big move to attack Virginia, and the Bison went with them.  But Virginia’s counterattack was too much for the Bison, as the Cavaliers moved back through Michigan, they moved through Bucknell. The Bison would finish the race a close 5th. The 2V was made up of Doug Burney ’16, Crawford Morris ’15, Sam Jubb ’17, Will Fierman ’15, Jack Shelton ’18, Mike Pallotta ’18, Dillon LaFata ’18, Sam Wiley ’17, and was coxed by Suzie Zubkoff ’18.

The varsity eight easily advanced out of their Friday heat by placing second to Michigan.  The semi-final, however, proved to be more challenging, with Florida Tech, Temple, and UNC.  Racing into an increased wind and chop the 1V still went off the line well.  A fast first 500 meters saw the Bison holding pace with second place Temple.  But as the 1V turned through Strawberry Mansion bridge, the Bison fell off the pace ultimately crossing the line in 4th, which qualified them for the petite final.  In the Petite Final, the Bison again went off the line well, but could not sustain their pace, and finished in 5th.  The 1V was made up of Ryan Thompson ‘16, Alex Moore ’15, Billy Pinamont ’17, Tyler Bogaczyk ’15, Andrew Vinnik ’17, Billy Tyler ’15, Nate Coffin ’16, Lucas Colagrassi ’15, and was coxed by Henry Leonardi ’18.

As a program, the 2015 Dad Vail marked the best team finish in school history at the regatta.  It was the first time that Bucknell saw three 8's make the finals on Saturday.

After racing had concluded the team packed up the trailer and head 5 hours north to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, MA for the ECAC National Invitational.  Conditions proved hot again, with temperatures in the mid-80’s despite the heavy breeze blowing in all day.

The Open Four showed up ready to row, looking to improve on their performance at Dad Vails.  With only 7 boats entered, the four would row directly in the final, with no heats.  The first half of the race proved to be a real barnburner. Bucknell and Michigan both shot out of a cannon off the line, with Trinity close behind.  The lead three boats opened up a lead on the rest of the field, before Bucknell and Michigan started to pull away even more.  Around the halfway mark Michigan made a move and established about a length over the Bison, but Bucknell held their own margin over Trinity to finish second and claim the silver.

The freshmen eight was next and despite some very tired legs they finished third in their heat, behind Trinity and Ithaca, but still moved on to the final.  With a blustery head wind picking up, the Bison went charging off the line in the final, determined to take a lead.  750 meters into the race the Bison had such a lead, just ahead of Williams, Trinity, and Ithaca.  As the second half of the race came around, the toll of 4 previous races began to pay its price here and they slowly slipped back.  Despite this Bucknell would hold on to 4th place, finishing just ahead of Michigan.

Despite having raced hard the previous day, the Bison second varsity eight won their heat over Williams, Ithaca, and Trinity to move into the final.  With the same blustery conditions as the other eights, the final proved to be a tough man’s contest.  The Bison flew off the line, trying to establish an early lead.  With 600 meters down the Bison had just over a deck advantage on Michigan and were a few seats over Hobart.  Hobart began to find its rhythm soon after the halfway mark and moved away from the field. Michigan took a move to move away from Bucknell and the Bison simply could not respond.  Michigan would take 2nd by just over a length, with the Bison earning a very hard fought bronze medal.

The Varsity Eight raced hard in their mid-morning heat, but despite a better row than the day before, finished back in fourth, behind Michigan, Wesleyan, and WPI to qualify for the Petite Final.  The 1V rowed the petite final, very well, however, and engaged in a back and forth battle with WPI and Trinity all the way down the course.  WPI took a small lead with just under 10 strokes to go, but the Bison came charging back.  The finish was close, but the Bison avenged their loss in the heat, beating WPI by just .3 seconds.  Despite being in the petite final, the Varsity Eight was pleased with their finish and are excited to get back to work.

The Bison will conclude their season in two weeks at the 2015 American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship, held on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia.  We hope to see you there!