Imagine you’re lined up at a championship race. You’ve trained all year for this. Then, you stumble out of the gate and put yourself at a huge disadvantage to the competition. Something similar happened to the men’s varsity four crew squad this past weekend.
“We had almost a full crab at the start of the race,” head coach Keith Jefferson said. “Crazy events like that can rattle you, but we train to not let that happen.”
The Seattle Pacific men’s and women’s varsity four squads traveled down to Gold River, Calif., on Saturday and Sunday to race in the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championships on Lake Natoma. Both squads would end up finishing fifth in their respective races.
Before the championship races on Sunday, there were preliminary races on Saturday. In order to advance to Sunday, the SPU squads would need to be one of the top three teams. The men’s squad finished second in their race, and the women’s squad was able to cruise into third place.
A “crab” in crew terms is defined as a rowing error which slows the whole boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower completely out of the boat. Luckily, the crab on Sunday was only minor.
“It obviously wasn’t our best race ever,” senior varsity member Matt Edel said. “We had the crab early, but we showed good fight to be able to come back and finish well.”
Once the men’s varsity squad recovered, they were able to pass Lewis and Clark University after 500 meters. After that, they battled with Long Beach State for fourth place during the rest of the race.
They pulled ahead during the sprint portion of the race, but would end up finishing behind them by one seat. LBSU finished with a time of 6:56.0, and SPU was right behind at 6:57.0.
Although there were only six squads racing on Sunday, it must be put into perspective.
SPU was battling against the top schools in the Western region. That includes Division I schools as well.
What also helped the men’s varsity four squad was having the maturity and poise to recover from a crab in a championship race.
“The men’s varsity four squad has been together for a while now, and their maturity showed,” Jefferson said. “They got it back together quickly, which was very critical for their success.”
During the women’s varsity four event, it was a tight race between SPU and LBSU again. This time, both of these squads were battling for fifth and sixth place.
Although Western Washington was an open-water winner with a time of 7:47.0, the closest matchup was for the fifth and sixth spots. SPU finished with a time of 8:04.0, which edged LBSU’s time of 8:05.0 by one seat.
The SPU crews only have a couple of weeks left, and that means that these are the final collegiate races for some seniors.
The only other senior besides Edel in the men’s varsity four squad is David Sowers, while the only senior in the women’s varsity four squad is Baylee O’Camb.
“I’ve been rowing at SPU for three years, but it’s surreal that it’s almost over,” Edel said.
“Time has flown by, and I’m going to enjoy my last couple of races.”
Moving on from the WIRA Championships, the next race for the SPU crews comes on Saturday in the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference (NCRC) Championships.
Since these races are held in Lowell, Ore., more SPU squads will have the chance to compete.
“The WIRA Championships are an adequate springboard going in to the NCRC Championships,” Jefferson said. “The men’s varsity four squad is hungry to get back out there already, especially because they will have the chance to race Western Washington next weekend.”