The Canisius College rowing team finished third overall at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Rowing Championships on Saturday afternoon on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The Golden Griffins' top-three finish was their best performance at the conference championships in program history after tying for fifth in their first appearance last season.
"Placing third as a team is shy of our goal, and won't sit well right now. But we're all pleased with our progress over the last year and have our sights set firmly on the top of the conference," said head coach Joel Furtek.
All three of the Griffs' crews managed to qualify the Grand Final of their respective race with two of the boats finishing in the top three. Finishing third overall, the Griffs (35 points) finished behind Fairfield (43) and Marist (45), who secured their 10th conference women's title.
Among the team's crews competing at the conference championships, the third-seed Second Varsity Eight recorded the program's top finish of second overall. In the Grand Final of the Second Varsity Eight, the Griffs placed second (7:23.89) behind eventual conference champion Marist (7:14.48).
"I'm extremely proud of the great race put in by our Second Varsity Eight," said Furtek. "They started well, pushed through the body of the race, and responded to aggressive moves in the final 500. We couldn't match Marist today but we raced the best race within us."
The Second Varsity Eight included senior Bridget Wodowski, senior Alyssa Eddy, senior Julia Roache, freshman Julie Sciandra, senior Allison Braun, senior Amanda Kielich, freshman Corrine Kickel, junior Meghan Martin and freshman coxswain Jordan Bamrick.
In heat two of the preliminaries, the Second Varsity Eight recorded the top-time among the five crews in their respective heat (7:34.77).
Entering as the top seed in the Varsity Eight competition, the Griffs rowed to the top time among the two preliminary heats (7:08.14) followed closely by Marist (7:09.05). In the Grand Final, the Griffs would finish third (7:04.24) behind Fairfield (6:57.54) and Marist (6:59.70).
"Our varsity eight had a great heat but came up short in the final. It's difficult to put a finger on it but our responses to Marist and Fairfield weren't enough," stated Furtek. "We knew that those well-coached crews would be faster this weekend than ever before. As a boat and a coach we all take ownership of the performance and will be better on our next time down the course."
The Varsity Eight was comprised of 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 final boat to take to the water at the conference championships for the Griffs was the eighth-seed Varsity Four. Reaching the Grand Final, the Griffs finished sixth overall in a time of 8:14.45 after placing third (8:33.45) in heat one of the preliminaries.
The Varsity Four included senior Katie Riley, freshman Emma Miller, freshman Megan Walsh, freshman Erica Mason and sophomore coxswain Meagan Hayden.
"In the varsity four we rose above our seed to finish sixth," said Furtek. "After a great heat and aggressive first 1500m, we were within reach of the medals but we came up short on gas in the sprint. With three freshmen in the boat, we've got a lot of time to grow!"
This season displayed the growth of the Canisius rowing program and its place in the MAAC. After finishing tied for fifth at last year's conference championships, the Golden Griffins moved into the top three programs in the MAAC. The Varsity Eight collected four conference weekly honors, earning 2013 MAAC Crew of the Year, as voted by the league's head coaches. In addition, Furtek completes his second season at Canisius as the conference's Women's Coach of the Year in recognition of the program's growth and rise to the competition.
"Only one of the women in our program has exhausted her eligibility, so I'm excited for our team speed next year," said Furtek. "It remains a great time to be a Griff!"