By James Bedrock
Last weekend, the Washington College men’s rowing team won the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference Championship. The Shoremen were able to take home the overall points total trophy and the varsity eight trophy. Coach John Leekley repeated as the MARC Coach of the Year.
Over the past three years, the Shoremen have been climbing the standings in the MARC Championship regatta, finishing third two years ago and second last year. It was only fitting for them to win the championship this year.
Senior Kevin Rodriguez, who sat stroke last weekend, said, “As a crew, we were just technically and physically far more prepared this year for the competition. All years prior we went to the conference race hoping to win the varsity eight. This year, we expected to win.”
This year, the Shoremen have been performing at a much higher level than in years previous. “Crew is a brutal sport because it is all about endurance and teamwork. Both of those things this years’ crew team seems to have, unlike any years previous,” Rodriguez said. “All around, the team is just more fit and determined than it has ever been before. Add that on top of the ambitious goals we set for the season, and you have the equation that equals a high performance level.”
Performance was not the only strong factor this season. Team chemistry and experience seemed to be the driving forces behind the crew and varsity eight.
“Rowing is the ultimate team sport and team chemistry is essential for a good crew,” said Rodriguez. “Team chemistry is something that is built both on and off the water.We all enjoy hanging out with one another as well as competing side by side. The personalities of the crew team seem to compliment each other better then any other team I have been on. When we are all together it just seems to work extremely well.”
The Shoremen varsity eight, including the coxswain, is made up of four seniors, three juniors, and two freshmen. Senior Springer Harris led the team as the coxswain with Rodriguez in the stroke seat, followed by junior Reno Smith in the seven seat, senior Brian Gamble in the six seat, and freshman Parker McIntosh in the five seat. Junior Michael Zaborskiy, senior Brandon Riker, junior Will Herland, and freshman Robert Storck rounded out the last four seats. The varsity eight is the biggest race in collegiate rowing.
“The varsity eight is where every rower wants to be. Every school prioritizes the eight at big races so it is always the best of the best. This is the first year that WC has been competitive in the eight in a long, long time. All the boys in the varsity eight know what it takes to be successful in the sport of rowing and it’s clearly visible in the way we have been training and performing all year,” Rodriguez said.
MARC awards were handed out this week, and the Shoremen were able to bring home even more glory. Gamble and Harris were named to the All-MARC varsity team, while freshman Lawrence Baker made the All-MARC novice team. Junior Susanne Vaughn and sophomore Sean Harrison were accompanied by Harris, Zaborskiy, Herland, and Riker in making the conference’s Academic Honor Roll. To make the Honor Roll, the student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5. Leekley was named MARC coach of the year for the second year in a row.
“Our coach has done a tremendous job at rebuilding the Washington College rowing program. In the four years that I have been at school, our rowing team has gone from celebrating mediocrity to celebrating Conference championships. The rowing program can definitely attribute that to our coach,” Rodriguez said.
Although the Shoremen are on top right now, they still have the biggest race of the year ahead at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia in two weeks.
“This is a tough time of year because everyone is finishing up classes and we still have our biggest race to prepare for. When we come to practice it is essential that everyone is completely focused on the task at hand. Once you reach the boat house, all the worries of school and life need to be left at the front gates,” Rodriguez said.
There is no doubt that the WC crew team has had one of the greatest seasons of all sports this year at WC. The women’s crew team has also had great success this year in comparison to previous years, and should not go unmentioned. Congratulations to both the men’s and women’s crew teams on such a great season.