Rowing Championship Preview
LANCASTER, Pa. -- Franklin & Marshall crews are preparing to
race in this Saturday's 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference
(MARC) Championships, being held at Gifford Pinchot State Park,
near Lewisberry, PA. The Diplomats will be entering crews in the
Women's Varsity 8, Women's 2nd Varsity 8, and the Men's Varsity 8
events. The MARC is comprised of 8 women's Division III varsity
programs from Bryn Mawr College, Marietta College (OH), North Park
University (IL), Richard Stockton College (NJ), Rutgers-Camden
(NJ), University of Mary Washington (VA), Washington College (MD),
and Franklin & Marshall. Men's club or varsity programs from
each of these institutions also compete in the MARC
The conference, which has been competing informally for several years, was recently recognized by the NCAA as an official Division III single-sport conference. The winner of the Women's Varsity 8 event will likely receive one of two national at-large bids to compete at the NCAA Championship regatta, May 28-30, in Gold River, CA (men's rowing is not currently an NCAA-sanctioned sport). The MARC is hopeful of being awarded an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships beginning with the 2011 season.
F&M's crews are entering the regatta as underdogs for first place finishes, but are all solidly in contention for spots in the top three. "The racing should be tight, especially in the Women's Varsity 8 event," said head coach Rob Weber. "We've raced some of the crews in the event previously this season, but this will be the first time all eight of us go head-to-head. There are at least five boats in medal contention, and while Marietta enters as the clear favorite, I really think it's anybody's race. Our goal is to beat crews from programs we've never beaten before, and hopefully improve on our third-place finish from last season. Our athletes are rested and rowing well in practice, so we'll see on the day."
The Women's 2nd Varsity will face tough crews in a seven-boat event, notably from Washington College and Mary Washington, but some of the competition are unknowns. "We haven't seen North Park at all this season, so don't really know what to expect," remarked Weber. "We are shooting for top-three, though. Five of the women in this boat first stepped into a racing shell over spring break, so are very much novices. But, assistant coach Hank Zimmerman has done a fantastic job bringing them along quickly, and I think they'll do well."
The men's 8 will compete in a four-boat event in an attempt to finish better than their bronze medal position last season. Said Weber: "Our men have been through a lot of adversity this season, but have shown incredible grit and persistence. They just keep plugging away, which speaks volumes as to their character and heart. Team captain Danny Falciani has fulifilled his leadership role admirably in keeping these guys on task, despite a perfect storm of setbacks. I have no doubt they will give everything they have on Saturday and row a race to be proud of."
Racing begins at 10:00 and concludes with the Women's Varsity 8 grand final at 1:00, followed by an awards ceremony at 1:45. Admission is free.