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Races start at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Courtesy: Chris Donahue

Bulldogs Set To Host Annual Spring Regatta

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: April 19, 2013
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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake rowing team hosts the 2013 Drake Invitational tomorrow morning on the Des Moines River. Teams from the University of Kansas and St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minn. are scheduled to compete with the Bulldogs. New boat christenings and an open house will take place at 9 a.m. at the Des Moines Boat House with races getting underway at 11 a.m.


Two weeks ago the Drake varsity teams traveled to the 2013 Shelton Duel in Shelton, Conn., while the junior varsity/novice teams participated in the 2013 Upper Midwest Championships in Omaha, Neb.

The varsity four crew of Jacque Nowers (Ames, Iowa), Katie Serbin (Hanibal, Mo.), Maggie Benhart (St. Charles, Iowa), Brittney Michael (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) and Jessica Nightser (Council Bluffs, Iowa) took third place in its race on Sunday, while the crew of Brianna Varela (Olathe, Kan.), Justin Choe (Morton Grove, Ill.), Megan Friel (Minooka, Ill.), Brittney Smith (Duluth, Minn.), Kristi Vann (Batavia, Ill.) placed second in the their race in Omaha.


The Drake University and the University of Tulsa rowing teams trained with each other in late March in Tulsa, Okla. during the Bulldogs’ annual spring break trip to a warm-weather site. The two teams competed in various, timed scrimmage segments one night in four and eight-crew boats. The trip allowed Drake to practice on the water, something the Bulldogs hadn’t been able to do for some time in Des Moines due to the weather and water conditions on the Des Moines River.


The Bulldogs have 16 returners from last season’s championship team and nine newcomers joining them this spring. The roster is comprised of nine freshmen, six sophomores, six juniors and four seniors.


The NCAA announced bracket expansion for women's rowing effective for the 2013 national championship. The expansion will give the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference winner an automatic bid to the national championship. The Drake rowing team is an auxiliary member of the MAAC. The MAAC Championship will be held Saturday, April 27 in Princeton, N.J. and the NCAA Championships will be held May 31-June 2 in Lake Lanier, Georgia.


Drake captured five titles at its home regatta one year. The Bulldogs won the varsity eight ‘A’ race and the varsity eight ‘B’ race as well as the novice eight race.


Saturday’s races will serve as a tune-up for next weekend as Drake looks to defend its 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship when it travels to the 2013 MAAC Championships in Princeton, N.J. on Saturday, April 27.  


A pair of seniors, Andrea Piekarczyk (Downers Grove, Ill.) and Kristi Vann (Batavia, Ill.), are the designated captains this year for the Bulldogs.


The 2012 spring season was the most successful in the Drake Rowing program’s history.  The Bulldogs won the MAAC championship which was the first league title in school history. In addition, the Bulldogs’ team of Jacque Nowers (Ames, Iowa) (coxswain), Kat Moore, Susan Goullette, Sarah Travis and Maggie Benhart (St. Charles, Ill.) captured the women’s varsity heavyweight four division at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia for the first gold medal ever won there by a Drake team.


Charlie DiSilvestro is in his 20th season at the helm of the Drake rowing program. DiSilvestro was named the head coach in July of 1993 and oversaw the transition of rowing from a Drake club sport to a Division I varsity sport.

DiSilvestro was named the 2012 MAAC Coach of the Year prior to the MAAC Championships on April 27, 2012. Drake captured the MAAC championship the next day, its first conference championship in school history. DiSilvestro helped lead Jacque Nowers, Kat Moore, Susan Goullette, Sarah Travis and Maggie Benhart to the women's varsity heavyweight four championship at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta. Their gold medal at the Dad Vail was also a first for the program.

In May of 2011, DiSilvestro was named Collegiate Coach of the Year by the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, Pa.  The award is presented annually to a collegiate rowing coach that has had outstanding success and has also contributed to the regatta.

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