After finishing third at the 2013 MAAC Championship in just its second season as a program, the Canisius College rowing team has its sights on taking home the title in 2014.
The Blue and Gold return five members from the Varsity Eight that won 2013 MAAC Crew of the Year (seniors Bridget Lazewski, and Liz McKinney, junior Liz Reinwald, sophomore Nora Kennon and sophomore coxswain Hannah Blum), and 13 total members of last year’s roster.
The 2013-14 Griffs got four races under their belts during the fall, highlighted by a seventh place finish at the Head of the Charles, which carried the team into the winter training season.
"Our winter training has gone very well," said head coach Joel Furtek. "The team has embraced our enhanced training plan and we've seen great progress technically and physiologically. We enter the spring in great shape and ready to apply our strengths on the water. Our seniors have really stepped up with leadership and our other classes are asserting themselves, too. Hard training and multiple testing opportunities were met with grit, determination and big smiles. It's fun to go fast!"
Recapping the Fall
A seventh place finish at the 49th Head of the Charles Regatta highlighted the fall schedule for Canisius. The team competed in four different events this fall, with the performance in Boston closing out the schedule.
The fall began with a fourth place finish for the Varsity Eight and a 3rd place finish for the Second Varsity Eight at the Hobart William Smith Challenge on the Canal.
Canisius then rebounded to take second and fourth for the Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Eight at the Head of the Tonawanda the same weekend. The Griffs squared off with local rival Buffalo in the event.
Canisius’ third race of the season was at the Head of the Genesee where the Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Eight took sixth and seventh respectively. Syracuse and Radcliffe (Harvard) took the top two spots at the Genesee.
The famed Head of the Charles was the final race for the Griffs’ who moved up the pack from their 27th starting position to a seventh place finish against some of the nation’s fastest crews.
The Griffs will have another big stage to compete on this spring, as the team prepares for the Longhorn Invitational, where they’ll square off with seven of the nation’s top crews in a nationally broadcast regatta on ESPN3.
Looking Forward to Spring
The Griffs will open their season in Dallas against Southern Methodist and Creighton (March 15) in Dallas, Texas. Then the Blue and Gold will take part in the nationally-televised Longhorn Invitational at the University of Texas on March 22 and 23.
"We're excited to be on the water now and, ready or not, to race," Furtek said. "We'll have to accelerate some of the small lessons but the great mileage we put in last Fall is helping us to do so. Our races this first weekend may be a bit rough around the edges, but we're ready to embrace the challenge and see how we stack up against these two long-established programs. We'll miss the Jesuit Invitational in Cherry Hill this year, so we're pleased to kick off the season against Creighton. They're coming off their own Spring Break week and we will have to be at the top of our game to be competitive. Following that up with a very strong SMU crew will prove to be a fast double-header."
"This season will throw us into racing at every level and speed, and we're ready to challenge ourselves at each opportunity. In just our first week back on the water, our women will race down the course 5 times; that would be an entire season in my day! In addition to Creighton and SMU, we'll come to the line against multiple-national champion Yale, and big programs from Tulsa, Kansas State, and UCF. Our team is fired up for the challenge in every case."
After the Griffs’ opening weekend of competition against SMU and Creighton, they will remain in Texas for their annual spring-training before being one of eight teams competing in Texas’ Longhorn Invitational.
Following the Griffs’ southern swing, they’ll have a brief layoff until returning to action on April 5 at the Sacred Heart Invitational, which will be the Griffs first competition featuring MAAC competitors.
Canisius will then take part in the Knecht Cup in West Windsor, N.J. The annual event features over 70 crews.
The Griffs will then return to their home water to take on Mercyhurst on the Black Rock Channel. The Griffs will take to the water on April 18, in the team’s final regular season event of the year.
Canisius will then attempt to earn the first conference championship in the young program’s history on April 26.
"All of this early racing will feed us into the Sacred Heart Invitational and our first look at MAAC competition," Furtek said. "A return to the Knecht Cup and our home race against Mercyhurst will keep the speed going, all leading into what should be an extremely competitive MAAC Championship. Five crews have a legitimate expectation of a championship, and it will come down to execution on race day. We're counting on continual improvements, race experience, and a great team dynamic to keep us in the mix."
A Look at the Roster
Canisius has four seniors -- Allison Braun, Laszewski, Meghan Martin and McKinney – and two juniors, Reinwald and Alexa Vadala on its very young roster.
Lazewski, Braun, McKinney, Reinwald and sophomore Corrine Kickel each rowed in the Varsity Eight for all-four fall races, with Kennon and sophomore Julianna Sciandra joining the crew for three.
Sophomore Liz DelBarba also joined the Griffs’ Varsity Eight for the Head of the Charles after rowing on the Second Varsity Eight for the first three races of the fall.
The Griffs’ return both coxswains from last year as well, with sophomore Jordan Bamrick competing for a spot on the Varsity Eight with Blum, with each steering the top-boat in two fall races.
Action is scheduled to get underway for the 2014 Griffs on Saturday, March 15, when they row against SMU and Creighton in Dallas, Texas.