MIAMI, Fla.-Florida Tech wins their 26th Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association Overall Combined Championships title (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976,
1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984,1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2004 and 2006) today at the Krome Avenue
Quarry course for the 57th Annual FIRA Championships.
The Panther men took their second straight trophy winning the overall men’s title with 149.5 points to return home with the cup. The women finished
fourth out of 11 teams with a 32.5 tally, Central Florida taking the 2006 women’s title (107.5).
The Panthers combined to win eight gold medals, seven silver medals and one bronze along with three fourth place finishes from the 19 events entered out of
the 29 total events at the regatta. Thirteen total schools participated in all with all teams participating on the women’s side and nine schools on
the men’s side.
The teams were faced with extreme weather conditions beginning on Saturday morning with a strong headwind that caused all the pairs and double skull events
to shorten the course to about 1,000 meters. At one point, these boats were struggling to stay afloat with a good number of the smaller shells sinking
during their races.
The big wins of the FIRA Championships came for the Men’s Varsity Eight with the best course time of 6:41.6 besting five other crews including second place
Jacksonville (6:48.1), who was seven seconds slower on the 2,000 meter course. Central Florida (7:00.5) took the bronze and Rollins (7:04.5), Tampa
(7:33.1) and South Florida (8:55.2) completing the entries.
The members of Florida Tech’s varsity eight included: junior coxswain Rachel Hillyer (Melbourne, FL), senior stroke oar Tim Watson (Orange Park, FL),
sophomore seven seat Paul Bunkers (Winter Park, FL), freshman six seat Taylor Brown (Winter Park, FL), junior five seat Gabriel Candelaria (Albuquerque,
NM), junior four seat Lars Johnson (Traverse City, MI), junior three seat Justin Eickmeier (Pickering, Ontario), junior two seat Jeff Tessier (Cohoes, NY)
and senior bow Robert Runia (Lake Nordan, SD).
On the women’s side Women’s Varsity Four also came away with gold defeating SSC foes Barry (9:22.7), who finished second, and Nova Southeastern
(9:50.8), who placed 5th, along with DI opponent’s 3rd place Miami (9:41.1), 4th place Jacksonville (9:46.6) and 6th place Central Florida
(10:04.0) in extreme weather conditions. Tech had the winning time of 9:16.0 with the crew of junior coxswain Desiree Tetrault (Naples, FL), sophomore
stroke oar Maddie Smerin (Fairfax, VA), junior three seat Jessie House (Satellite Beach, FL), senior two seat Whitney Given (Orlando, FL) and senior bow
Nicole Weiler (Stuart, FL).
The Panthers also swept the double skulls on the men’s side along with the women winning the pair event. Men’s members of the gold double skulls with a
winning time of 4:17.8 were sophomores Jeremy Crowe (St. Petersburg, FL) and Kris Groble (Orange Park, FL). Women’s gold medalists were senior Audrey
Farson (Silver Springs, MD) and Sophomore Anna Beaman (Pittsboro, IN) with a first place time of 4:53.6 defeating seven other schools.
The Panthers will be back in action next weekend traveling to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the SIRA Championships on Melton Lake April 13th thru the 15th.