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The Aquilian

Gonzaga crew triumphs over Central Catholic in 1st online Shrewsbury Cup Regatta

Screen Shot of the First Varsity 8 race.

While many sports have had to completely postpone their seasons, Gonzaga’s rowing team has found a way to still compete despite the stay-at-home and distance restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. In these unique times, the team has been rowing over a 2-kilometer distance indoors at home on their standard issue Concept 2 rowing machines. 

The first online race of the season was April 9 against La Salle College High School from Montgomery County, Pa. Gonzaga’s 1v8 and 2v8 prevailed over LaSalle’s 1v8 with the Gonzaga 3v8 close behind, which was a good start to the virtual season.

On April 25, Gonzaga’s rowing team held its second online race for the Theresa Clair Cup (second varsity eight), the Paul G. Hamm Trophy (first varsity eight) and the Shrewsbury Cup (total team points). Gonzaga’s team competed against the top three varsity eights and the first and second freshman eights of Central Catholic High School of Pittsburgh, Pa. 

Gonzaga only fell to Central Catholic in two events: the first and second freshmen eights.  Gonzaga‘s Varsity Eights swept their side of the regatta winning the 1v8, 2v8, and 3v8 events.  Individual event results can be found here.

Gonzaga Head Coach Andy Bacas and Central’s Head Coach Jay Hammond led both teams into a Zoom call and ran simultaneous heats for each event.

Even though the freshmen were not able to come away with a win, their strength to keep training for the event was remarkable, especially after their entire season was thrown in the bin. The freshmen were handed a blow on Oct. 26, 2019 where they were not allowed to race in the Head of the Schuylkill River regatta (their only fall regatta) due to high winds and whitecaps. 

“It’s really disappointing and frustrating because we know we would have had fun and done well, but that chance was just taken from us. It overshadows and makes all the time we put in before the quarantine look worthless. The coaches encourage us to stick together through these hard times to keep training for next year. The freshmen, myself included, truly cannot wait to race,” said Evan Link, freshman.

Other rowers have been disappointed, especially seniors who were not able to race their final season on Eye Street. Seniors have still found a positive spin on a hard season because of the recent online competitions.

“Online racing gives us all something to rally behind and helps me to stay motivated while being isolated,” said Stephen Bacas, senior and first varsity rower. 

For the time being, the next scheduled online competition for Gonzaga will be on May 17, when USRowing will hold its Mid-Atlantic Youth Regional Championships. If any of the team’s entries qualify for USRowing Youth Nationals, a virtual National Championship will be held the first week in June.  

After that, Gonzaga Rowing remains flexible.  If conditions permit a return to the water and regular training before the summer is over, the team hopes to remain largely intact as a 2020 scholastic organization and race anyone they can before breaking up for college and the new 2020-21 school year.

“I think the team would have been tremendous this year,” Coach Bacas said.  “Challenging for gold in the 1v8 and 2v8 at Stotesbury with good medal chances in Junior 8 and Light 8, as well.  Maybe in Junior and Light 4, too.  I think if the 1v finished first or second at Stotesbury we would have gone to Henley.”

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    Pam ValeirasMay 3, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    Super cool! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Go Eagles!