The Canisius College rowing team will make its first appearance at the MAAC Championship as a varsity program on Saturday, April 28 at Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J. The Golden Griffins will compete among nine additional schools for the conference title.
"Conference championship is always going to be a big deal," said head coach Joel Furtek. "It is hard to go in with too high an expectation, certainly down the road, not far from now, our expectation will be to compete for a win. This year, I don't know if that is within our grasp but we will certainly go after it."
The Golden Griffins will make their first appearance at the conference championship as a varsity program. In 2007, the Griffs competed in the MAAC Championship as a club team, the College's last appearance at the championship until this weekend.
As a club, the Griffs' highest finish was fourth place, which the team completed four times in 1999, 2000, 2004, and 2005.
Last year's championship was cancelled due to high winds, which created unsafe conditions at Lake Mercer.
At the 2010 MAAC Championship, Loyola University secured its second consecutive conference trophy with 189 total points, the team's fourth title in program history. Marist placed second with 166 points, who has captured nine of the last 14 conference championships.
The Golden Griffins enter the MAAC Championship after hosting their first home event at the Frank Lloyd Wright Fontana Boathouse on Sunday, April 22. At the inaugural Black Rock Cup, the Griffs swept crosstown opponent D'Youville in the varsity eight and varsity four races.
The Griffs started strong at the start of the varsity eight race, which propelled the team to a first-place finish (7:09.3) over the Spartans (7:36.7). In the varsity four race, the Griffs and Spartans battled to the finish with the Blue and Gold (8:24.3) as the winner followed by the Spartans (8:33.8).
Earlier in the season, the Golden Griffins had a taste of MAAC Championship action at the Sacred Heart Invitational. The field at the Invitational on Saturday was comprised of five MAAC schools with Marist joining the field on Sunday.
In both varsity eight races on Saturday, Canisius and MAAC opponent Drake battled for the top spot. In the first race, Drake (7:35) managed to take first by defeating the Griffs (7:36.9) out by 1.9 seconds.The Grand Final of the varsity eight was a repeat performance as the Griffs took second (7:52.9) behind the Bulldogs (7:48.0).
With fellow MAAC member Marist joining the competition on Sunday, the field for the varsity eight race featured six conference opponents.
In the varsity eight race, the Griffs managed to place third overall (7:46.5) ahead of Iona (8:46.4) and Fairfield (7:58.4). A pair of MAAC opponents swept the top-two spots as Marist took first (7:26.2) followed by Drake in second (7:44.8).
"It was fantastic for our young student-athletes, who are still learning how to race," said Furtek. "Our task is to first go out and repeat that level of performance and then second it is a championship, so everybody needs to elevate and we need to see how much better we can do than that."
Canisius' Times of Competition at 2012 MAAC Championship
9:15 a.m. - Varsity Four
9:30 a.m. - Second Varsity Eight
9:45 a.m. - Varsity Eight
10:30 a.m. - Novice Four
12:15 p.m. - Open Four