Photo: Taylor Armstrong
The Drake women’s rowing team won all six races at the Charlie Thomas Memorial Row in Wichita, Kan., on March 12.
In its first race of the spring season, the rowing team swept head coach Charlie DiSilvestro’s alma matter.
“Sweeping the race helped boost the team’s confidence and is definitely a step in the right direction,” junior captain Hilary Dietz said.
The 1,600-meter dual on the Arkansas River between Drake and Wichita State was in memory of former Wichita State coach Charlie Thomas.
“Charlie Thomas was my coach at WSU and was instrumental to my training out east,” DiSilvestro said. “He played a big part in my life in keeping me focused in my athletics in college, and showed me that if I trained hard I could do really well. He was the first coach that really helped me that way and was a great motivator.”
In the first race of the day, Drake’s novice four squad beat the Shockers by eight seconds.
Drake’s varsity eight boat posted the best women’s time for the day in its first race with 6 minutes, 17 seconds to beat the Shocker varsity eight by five seconds. In its second race, Drake’s varsity eight posted a time of 6:23 to win again.
The junior varsity eight crew pulled away slightly at the end to narrowly beat the Wichita State boat, with a time of 6:55.18 compared to the Shockers’ 6:58.49.
The Bulldogs won the junior varsity four race with a time of 7:54.41 after pulling away in the last 700 meters.
In the last race of the day, Drake’s novice eight boat won with an eight-second advantage over the Wichita State novice eight, crossing the finish line at 7:25.44.
“The race reflected our work indoors and during the winter training camp,” DiSilvestro said. “We lost to Wichita [State] in the fall, so the win showed improvements and quicker boats.”
Dietz said she also thought the race displayed how the team’s training had paid off.
“The race demonstrated that the team came off our winter season really well and is excited to be back on the water and in the competitive spring racing season,” she said.
Following the regatta, the team continued on the road to Catoosa, Okla., for a one week training trip. The team used the University of Tulsa’s indoor facilities and boathouse for daily practices.
Due to high winds, the Tulsa Regatta versus Drake, scheduled for March 16, was canceled.
In place of the regatta, the teams held informal races in an effort to scope out what other NCAA Division I rowing teams are bringing to the spring season of competition.
“The training trip went really well. The racing against Tulsa was good,” DiSilvestro said. “They’re a very good team, probably one of the top 30 teams in the country this year. Having a varsity eight competitive with their boats was good. It also showed us the [varsity] four and [junior varsity] eight need to really work hard to get to the next level.”
Not officially racing in Tulsa leaves the Bulldogs with only four races to go.
“With less than a month left before conference, we’re on the right track,” DiSilvestro said. “We set our goal to win conference; that’s not going to be easy. All three boats need to come together as crews, not just physically and technically, but mentally. The girls need to be trusting that each of them is training hard so that when we get out to Princeton, [N.J.,] there is no doubt in anyone’s mind.”
The team’s next race is April 2. The varsity eight will be racing in Shelton, Conn., at the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference Invitational and the rest of the team will be at Creighton in Omaha, Neb.
“Our training with Tulsa allowed us to see a really competitive team with a strong work ethic,” Dietz said. “It reminded us that we need to step it up and put everything into our training and upcoming races to get the payoff we want, winning the MAAC conference championship.”