The Canisius College rowing team appeared in its first conference championship as a varsity program with the team tying for fifth overall in the MAAC Women's Rowing Championship on Saturday afternoon at Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J. The Golden Griffins scored 13 points to tie conference affiliate Robert Morris for fifth place.
"It has been a long hard day of racing for our young women. We are a novice team, but we dared to race as a full varsity program," said head coach Joel Furtek. "We definitely came up short of our goals in the team standings, but we know we have baseline now and we're excited for the future of our program."
Drake captured the crown in field of ten teams at the MAAC Championship with 33 points. Marist finised in close second with 31 points followed by Jacksonville (19) and Fairfield (17). Canisius and Robert Morris rounded the team competition with 13 points to share fifth place.
In the Griffs' first competition of the day, the team finished sixth in the varsity four race (10:23.6). Fairfield (8:12.1) managed to beat eventual champion Drake (8:17.8) by five seconds to win the race.
Next up in the second varsity eight race, the Golden Griffins recorded one of their best performances of the day. The Blue and Gold finished fourth overall with a time of 7:55.3. Marist would take first in the race in a time of 7:18.3 followed by Drake (7:22.4).
Canisius placed fifth in the varsity eight race (7:17.0) with team champion Drake (6:52.8) securing first-place, which would lead the Bulldogs to the conference title.
"Where we struggled competitively, it wasn't for lack of effort or spirit - as novices, we made novice mistakes," said Furtek. "Our decision to race straight to the varsity level speaks to where we intend to take this program. I'm proud of our women who have bought into our vision for the future of this team, and of themselves. It's a great time to be a Griff!"
In addition to the above races, the day included multiple non-scoring events. The Griffs' best performance in these events came in the novice four, as the team captured third (8:23.3). Rounding out the top spots were Fairfield (7:52.8) and affiliate member Sacred Heart (8:16.5).
The Griffs' concluded their final race of the day in the open four, placing fourth (8:02.9) with Marist (7:33.0) taking the top spot.
This season has been filled with many challenges and achievements for the Griffs in their first season as a varsity program. As a novice team, the Blue and Gold raced as a full varsity program, including the team's first appearance at the Knecht Cup.
"We lose only two women out of our top boats, and expect to get still more speed from our incoming class and the return of some of our rowers after a summer of rehab," said Furtek. "We could never replace Stephanie Parrish or Jessica Leemans, but their leadership by example will stay with us as we grow."