In only its second year of varsity competition, the Canisius College rowing team earned a pair of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) honors on Friday evening at the conference's annual awards banquet in West Windsor, N.J. The Golden Griffins' Varsity Eight was chosen as the 2013 MAAC Crew of the Year with head coach Joel Furtek receiving this year's Women's Coach of the Year honor, as voted by the league's head coaches.
In four spring races, the Griffs' Varsity Eight claimed conference crew of the week honors following each performance. The Griffs went undefeated against MAAC opponents this year, capturing victories over nine-time conference champion Marist, Loyola, and Jacksonville, while collecting a pair of victories against both Fairfield and Robert Morris.
The Varsity Eight included sophomore Liz Reinwald, senior Monica Klenk, freshman Nora Kennon, senior Bridget Laszewski, junior Liz McKinney, junior Nancy Kennish, senior Stephanie SanFilipo, junior Lynna Paradiso and freshman coxswain Hannah Blum.
The Griffs boat is comprised of five members, who were part of the Griffs since the inception of the program last year, including Reinwald, Klenk, Laszewski, Kennish, and SanFilipo. Joining the original five are a pair of junior transfers in McKinney and Paradiso, as well as freshmen Kennon and Blum.
Earning this year's MAAC Coach of the Year honor, Furtek has transformed the Griffs into a force in the MAAC. Undertaking the responsibilities of an upstart program, Furtek has directed the Griffs to success in only their second year of varsity competition. In the team's first appearance at the MAAC Rowing Championships last season, the Griffs finished their run by sharing fifth-place with Robert Morris. This season, the Griffs' Varsity Eight finished its spring schedule undefeated against MAAC opponents, while capturing conference honors after each of their perfromances. The Varsity Eight enters this year's conference championships as the top seed with the Second Varsity Eight pulling to the line as the third seed.
Prior to arriving at Canisius, Furtek served as an assistant coach at the University of Central Florida for two seasons. Furtek directed the Novice Eight, including current Griff Lynna Paradiso, to a second-place finish in the petite final at the 2010 NCAA South-Central Regionals with the crew recording the top performance among Conference USA's boats.
Beyond Canisius, Furtek has experience in directing an upstart rowing program from his experience at the University at North Carolina. Serving the Tar Heels for five years, Furtek helped establish the program in the Division I rowing community. In his only second year at UNC, Furtek guided the Varsity Four to a bronze medal at the NCAA Rowing Championships in 1998.
In addition, three rowers were selected to the MAAC All-Academic Team for their excellence in the classroom. Earning league academic honors were senior Katie Riley, Kennish, and Reinwald.
The Blue and Gold will compete in the MAAC Rowing Championships on April 27 on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The top-seed Varsity Eight boat will compete at 9:30 a.m. followed by the third-seed Second Varsity Eight at 10:15 a.m. and the eighth-seed Varsity Four at 11 a.m.