2014 SIRAs Coaches Summary

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Novice Women

by Coach Emma Rudebusch

The novice women’s four raced in the third of four heats on Friday afternoon.  For the majority of the race they were in fourth place, but after a solid sprint with 300m left to go, they were able to place second with the fourth fastest time of all 23 entries coming out of heats.  This finish left the squad excited for the semi-final on Saturday morning.

In the semi-final WMRC was part of a close battle.  The places for second, third, fourth and fifth that was ultimately decided by the sprint as the earlier portion of the race couldn’ separate the field.  Unfortunately, WMRC ended up placing fifth just behind High Point University, which sent them to the “B Final” later Saturday afternoon.  This final race was again tight.  WMRC ended up placing fifth, finishing just one-tenth of a second behind ERAU.  This result meant the novice women placed 11th out of a field of 23 crews overall.

 Varsity Women

by Coach Graham Ludmer

We started the trip in the early hours of Thursday, and arrived at the venue at about 1 pm.  The crew got right to work, and began unloading the trailer, eager to get on the water for a row through the course.  Both the wind and water were perfect, typical for Oakridge, and all our boats were able to run through their race warm up’s and fit in a few 30-40 stroke pieces down the coarse.
Friday Races:
1:00PM: Women’s Pair (time trial) 
Instead of racing six boats across in multiple heats, the officials decided to have the pairs go off individually, and then seed the A & B-finals according to those raw times.  They also decided to change this time trial from 2000 m, the conventional distance, to 1750 m.  The decision to eliminate 250m was a surprise to everyone, and we only found this out upon arriving on site.  Despite all the changes the pair “laid it down,” and posted the second fastest of the day, placing them comfortably in the A-finals Saturday morning.
4:24PM: Women’s Varsity 4+  Heat (3 to semi’s)
Knowing that the SIRA regatta combines funded varsity schools and club schools in the same heats, the four showed up ready to be pushed.  Going into the competition the four was eager to compete at this level, and see where their top speed places them among their toughest competition this season.  With their minds focused on one race at a time, they went out and attacked every meter.  They had a strong running, despite a rocky start, and earned second in their heat.  This put them in position to move onto Semi-finals, and put their raw time among the top 5 NCAA and club crews.
Saturday:
9:07AM: Women’s Varsity 4+ semi-finals  (2 to A-finals)
With a clear game plan, and goal in mind, they launched hoping to clear up the bad start from the previous race and really press against the other schools.  When their time came, and the official yelled “row”, the WV4+ did exactly that.  They lead the pack for the first 600m, and forced GW to fight for the next 1000m to just get through their boat.  At the 1600 m mark, GW finally gained the lead rowing at a 41 spm, while W&M kept a strong striking rate of 32 spm.  The coxswain (Mairin Haley) knew they had earned a position in the A-finals, and made an excellent decision to not sprint, and came through the finish with only a minor rating bump to 34 spm.  They placed second again in their heat and conserved some energy for the grand finals.
10:20 am: Womens Pair A-Finals
With their minds set on winning gold, they knew they needed to shave off a couple seconds in order to compete with Calhoun College.  They launched and were both very focused, determined and excited to finally get a chance to race in a grand final.  As the race began, the W2- took off the line quickly and smoothly.  After the start strokes, they landed about 4th in the pack, and began methodically edging up with Charleston and NSU.  Kicking down the coarse at a strong rate of 32-33, they slowly stole seat after seat and gained 2nd place by the 1000m mark.  With only one boat ahead, they tried to use every stroke to catch up with Calhoun College.  However despite efforts all the way through the finish line, they were unable catch them, making their final placement second and earning a SILVER medal!  To me, the boat had 2 GREAT moments.
1. In the first 400m, they kept their cool and didnt get frantic.  They then settled into a strong rate, and began aggressively challenging the crews around them.
2. Within the last 200m, (from shore) I could still see them pushing so hard that the shell underneath them would visible lurch forward.
1:42 pm: Women’s Varsity 4+ A-Finals
In a heat filled with mostly NCAA schools, the WV4+ knew they were in for a very fast race.  Launching, they had 1 goal in mind “shirts!”  Having taken every race one at a time, putting down competitive times, and really pushing against other crews, I only had two words to say when it came time to launch- “Have fun.”  Earning a spot in a A-finals doesn’t happen on accident, months of training, pushing each other against their fellow teammates, and even more meters on the erg have put them in this position.  The only thing left to do, is stay calm, hit a great start, and once you land in the body of a race, start to play with the other crews.  Go stroke for stroke with them, love the competition, and push each other to have the best races you can.  True to form, as the race began, they held tight to that race plan.  They locked in a great start, and for more than 1/2 the race, they held with 3 other NCAA schools.  Their final placement was 4th in their heat, and earned GOLD in their club rankings!!  The greatest moments for this boat were:
1.  In the semi-finals- clear all the way from shore, they were out to win.  Rowing powerfully, focused, and clean, they showed the other crews how hard they had worked during the off season.  They were the crew who was asking the question to the other crews of “can you keep up”.  They even silenced a moved GW tried to perform about 600 meters in.
2.  In the grand finals they were mature, eager, and excited to compete against these top level crews.  Being only funded at a club level, they set their sights high upon launching. They held themselves to a very high standard and performed to meet that standard.
I could not be more proud of all 7 girls.  The fact that both boats medalled, and performed at such a great level, is a testament to how hard they have all worked and how well they have pushed each other and themselves throughout this entire season.

Varsity Men
by Coach Jason Mitchell

Mens Varsity 4 Heat (3 to semifinals)
After a disappointing Occoquan Sprints, the MV4+ knew they had 2 weeks to improve and row a race of which they could be proud.  From the start of the heat, the field was even straight across the lanes.  It wasn’t until the 1000m mark where the crews started to separate.  Texas pulled into the front of the pack but W&M was moving with them keeping a close grasp on the second position.  Although they were starting to pull away Murray State, Texas A&M and Temple we still in contact with WM’s boat and pressing.  As the boats crossed the 500m mark all four crews were battling for the 2nd and 3rd position to advance to semifinals.  Stroke by stroke each boat changed position with each pull of the oar.  With only 150m left the announcers call, “Drawing even, Temple, Texas A&M, and W&M right across”.  After putting everything they had into the battle for position, there just wasn’t enough left for those last 100m.  W&M finished 5th in the heat still maintaining contact with Texas A&M and Temple.  David Barnisin (senior) after the race said, “It was the closest race I have ever been in.”  It may not have been the result they we all would have wanted but the crew raced with pride.

Mens Varsity Lightweight 4 (Grand Final)
This year the MVL4+ event only had 7 entries.  With so few entries the regatta decided to run one race, a 7-wide grand final.  This allowed them to not have to worry about racing through semifinals and rest up all weekend.  They would be able to save up energy and lay it all out in one piece.  By the 500m mark, the field had already began to separate with four boats fighting for the medaling positions.  W&M was pressing along with the lead pack battling with Clemson and Florida State for 2nd and 3rd position.  These three crews jockeyed for position all the way down the course matching eachother stroke for stroke.  This race it came down to the last few strokes.  W&M finished 4th only 3 seats behind 3rd place Clemson.  It was a great race to watch go down the course and see them moving on crews, fighting stroke for stroke and never giving up.

Overall this was a great race weekend.  The crews were able to go out on the water and really row a race they can be proud of.  They went out there and did the best they could.  Although it may not have been the results they were dreaming of the night before, it does show how much they have improved since day one.  After some short reflecting on the SIRA weekend, we are ready to get back to practice and prepare ourselves for the Dad Vail coming up in less than 3 weeks.