Men’s Varsity Eight Captures Program’s Third Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta Title

Florida Tech edges Michigan at finish line, 5:37.169 to Wolverines’ 5:37.925

PHILADELPHIA – Florida Tech’s 17th-ranked men’s varsity eight overpowered Michigan in a dead sprint to the finish line to win its third Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta Championship Saturday afternoon on the Schuylkill River.

The Panthers’ time was 5:37.169. Defending champion Michigan, which beat FIT in a photo finish in 2012, was edged at the line this time around, as the Wolverines finished at 5:37.925. Drexel timed in at 5:45.696 for third place. Virginia, Grand Valley State and Temple came in fourth through sixth, in order.

Winning the gold medal for the Crimson and Gray were coxswain Aaron Evans, stroke Jose Gomez-Feria, Ernestas Zarskis, Nikola Selakovic, Joe Horn, Martynas Mickus, Andy Konecny, Phillip Machen and bow Kevin Coyle.

“This is an awesome experience for FIT and for all of our faculty, staff, students and alumni,” President and CEO Anthony J. Catanese said. “For the first time in 27 years we won the Dad Vail Championship, the national championship in rowing. With our second win in softball at the NCAA Regional, this is one of the greatest days in FIT sports history.”

Head coach Jim Granger echoed Catanese’s sentiments on the great win.

“I’m really happy for the kids, really happy for the program, the school, everyone that made the effort to come here and our alumni,” head coach Jim Granger said. “It’s a special day that everyone will have the chance to celebrate for a little bit. Everything the kids had to do to win, they did. There wasn’t a lot of margin for error. I don’t think we made any mistakes. We needed to have a complete piece and the kids performed today. It was a good day.”

The crew executed its race plan perfectly, jumping off to a good, aggressive start in lane three. With Michigan on one side and Drexel on the other, the Panthers knew what they were up against. Both crews performed well throughout the regatta in their heats and in the semifinals.

FIT pushed ahead of Drexel and had a staggered lead over Michigan as the crews turned underneath the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. Michigan emerged with a two to three seat lead over the Panthers with 1,000 meters to go.

The Crimson and Gray fought back and rowed through Michigan, an institution much larger than FIT, in the last 40 meters.

Typically, crews row between 36-37 strokes per minute in the body of the race. FIT took its stroke rating up to 48 to accomplish its goal of winning the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta.

“It took an outstanding effort from the men’s varsity eight to beat the defending champion University of Michigan, who rowed an outstanding race,” Athletics Director and former rowing coach Bill Jurgens said. “It was obvious that the University of Michigan rowed the best race it could row. We were able to row through them at the most critical part of the race.”

FIT’s men’s varsity eight last won the Dad Vail Regatta title 27 years ago in 1988. That championship followed the program’s first in the event in 1982. Jurgens was the coach for both of those titles.

“We want this (championship) for the whole program, not just the varsity eight,” Granger said. “These guys have worked so hard. We practice at the canal and have put miles, miles and miles down there to be good. For those guys to put that much work into it and finally come up with the win is huge.”

The Panthers’ junior varsity eight of coxswain Beatriz Saldana, stroke Marko Milovanovic, Vicente Aycart, Carson Green, John Martin, Hank Walch, Chris Field, Batuhan Cakici and bow Nate Hodge raced earlier in the day. With the top three crews advancing to the final, they placed fifth in their semi at 5:59.91. Temple was the first crew to cross the finish line, coming in just under three seconds before second place Virginia at 5:50.92. Bucknell was third and Saint Joseph’s was fourth. Coming in behind FIT was Delaware at 6:03.85.\

FIT will race next at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship May 29-31 in Mercer County, New Jersey.



Video Interviews

Jim Granger:

Jose Gomez-Feria:

Ernestas Zarskis:


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