WINDSOR, N.J. - Spring temperatures are rising as the competition heats up for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rowing crews.
As fellow students enjoy the 103rd Drake Relays, the Drake women's rowing team will head to West Windsor, N.J. to compete for its conference title.
On April 28th the women's rowing team will compete against crews from Marist College, Robert Morris University, University of Jacksonville, Farifield University, Canisius College and Sacred Heart University on Mercer Lake.
Twenty distinct Drake rowers and three coxswains will compete in the varsity 8+, second varsity 8+ and varsity 4+ boats.
"This is what we have been working towards all year with our races and training," Drake head coach Charlie DiSilvestro said. "Our practices have been solid all week and we need to execute the race plan and not let the overall event overwhelm us. If we execute we will be ready to race hard."
After high winds created unsafe rowing conditions and a subsequent last-minute championship cancellation last year, Drake hopes to best its fourth place finish from 2010.
As the countdown to the championship reaches single digits, Drake rowing is working to fine tune race plans and shave off seconds.
"Since facing the V8+ faced the other conference teams in Connecticut we have made some lineup changes and pushed for faster boats," said senior captain Susan Goulette. "For next week we are ready for tough competition and to show the East Coast what our crew from Des Moines is all about."
"Water time hasn't helped in our training but we're still working hard and making improvements," said DiSilvestro. "I think we've made adjustments since Connecticut and put ourselves in contention to win."
The Shelton Invitational on April 2, 2012 in Shelton, Conn.t, was used to seed MAAC teams for the conference races. The second place finish by the Drake varsity 8+ boat placed the team in position for the second seed and lanes three or four.
This year the team has added additional practices and intensified training to prepare a strong showing at conference. The team also spent the Spring Break in Tulsa, Okla. with twice-daily practices to start the spring season off on a strong foundation.
Drake hosted the 2012 Drake Invitational this past weekend on the Des Moines River. The three-team Regatta featured Drake, Kansas and St. Thomas and served as a good tune-up for conference races.
When asked to compare the team's chances to last year DiSilvestro said, "We are deeper and faster as a team. Having everyone- not just varsity- putting in extra work has made us a strong team."
"I definitely agree that this year we are a strong team. We have a good bond and I think the extra workouts have really showed since we are winning at our races," said Goulette. "Our success last weekend at the Lubbers Cup in Grand Haven, Mich., was a great example of our preparation and what Drake crew is all about- winning and getting metals."
The MAAC is composed of predominately small-sized Division I East Coast schools. In need of a championship opportunity, the Drake women's rowing team joined MAAC in fall of 2009 and has participated in races on the East Coast to expand its area of competition outside the Midwest. Jacksonville University joined this year and will round out the competing teams.
The addition of another team to the conference coincides with an increased emphasis on inter-conference competition. For MAAC crews this conference championship will serve as a trial run before the conference championship becomes an automatic qualifying opportunity for 2013 NCAA Women's Rowing Championship.
By: Monica Worsley
Sophomore on the Drake Rowing Team