HENLEY-ON-THAMES, England (Men’s Rowing) – Viewed as the underdog to seeded Yale University lightweight varsity eight, Florida Tech’s heavyweights fell to the Bulldogs by a ½ boat length in the second round of the Temple Challenge Cup Thursday morning on River Thames.
Yale’s winning time was 6:24. It will now advance to Friday’s quarterfinals and race Harvard University’s freshman eight at the Henley Royal Regatta.
“It’s never fun to lose a race, but we matured as a crew today,” Tech head coach Jim Granger said. “We raced Yale pretty hard. We were beat by a better crew today. Nobody came off the water upset or feeling like we lost an opportunity. Everyone felt that today’s piece was our best of the season. We’re walking away pleased with ending our season on that kind of note.”
Coming off their first-ever race as a team overseas, coxswain Casey Dalal, bow Alec Bertossa, Troy Toggweiler, Frank Campione, Plamen Ivanov, Mindaugas Beliauskas, David Crooke, Spencer Freeman and stroke Jonas Karalius went into day two relaxed and confident. To advance to the round of eight teams, the Panthers needed to knock off the Intercollegiate Rowing Association’s National Lightweight Champions.
Both crews jumped out to a very strong start, matching each other stroke for stroke. A few minutes into the race, Tech held a slight advantage. With the race approaching the Barrier, approximately the one-half mile marker, the Panthers had a one-half length lead and were about two seconds off the course record.
As both teams approached the first mile, the race was neck and neck. Shortly after that point, the Bulldogs began to take a slight – 1-2 man – lead. Tech attempted to combat Yale’s advantage by increasing its strokes per minute, however, Yale countered a series of sprints to hang on for the win.
“We looked good and rowed hard,” Granger said. “The final margin was about one-and-a-half seconds. Over six minutes, 24 seconds, that’s a pretty tight race. That second-and-a-half will be motivation for next year.”
On behalf of his team, Granger wanted to thank the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta Organizing Committee and Aberdeen Asset Management Inc. for providing Tech the opportunity to compete in the prestigious event.
“This trip was a wonderful experience,” Granger added. “I’d like to thank the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta for giving us this opportunity. For the rowers that do not make their national team or race internationally, this event is close to the world championships. A lot of national teams race at Henley. This event has a sense of grandness, like the world championships.
“Our performance over the last few days speaks well. We made new friends and impressed a lot of people. Our guys represented Florida Tech and Melbourne very well.”
The Panthers’ trip to the Henley Royal Regatta highlights a memorable season for the historic program. In October, the varsity eight won the collegiate event at Head of the Charles by establishing a course record. In April, the team earned its third straight Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship before closing out the regular season with a silver medal finish at the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta.