JU men nab several firsts in fall’s first race
Boats from the Jacksonville University men’s rowing team took home several firsts and swept the top three places in two divisions in the First Coast Head Race during the weekend.

Championship 8 and Championship 4+ teams took the top three spots in their respective divisions to lead the charge with the Championship Pairs taking the top two spots and the Novice 8 also posting a first.

Senior Parker Lawler pulled double duty in winning boats as he took first in the 8 and 4 competitions.

In addition to Lawler, the Championship 8 crew consisted of Scott Del Vecchio, Brian Cosmillo, Greg VanOekel, Bernard Vingilis, Chase Rowe, Tom Richards, Matt Outlaw and Jared Low, and the boat won handily in both a net and raw time of 16:53.95.

The Dolphins swept the top three places in the division as JU C (Mick Mayer, Andre Kleijn, Matt Thomas, Jeremy Sobiech, Jacob Strauss, Tim Easterling, Andrew Bechtold, Alex Borrelli and David Waugh) crossed in 17:12.48 and the JU B boat (Christopher Ottie, Sean Carney, Patrick Troupe, Shane Kennedy, Preston Weinard, Drew Allen, Brian Tye, Jesse Brantman and Benjamin Hayes) in 17:48.20. UCF was fourth.

JU also pulled a sweep in the Championship 4 as Lawler, Richards and Shane Kennedy were joined by Mayer and Kleijn in the winning JU B boat. They had both a raw and net time of 16:35.42.

The JU A boat (Del Vecchio, Vingilis, Van Oekel, Cosmillo and Andrew Soloway) was second in 17:08.02 and the JU C boat (Borrelli, Kennedy, Chris Morgan, Patrick Troupe and Waugh) in 17:30.37.

“I’m proud of how our guys represented our program in front of a home crowd,’’ coach Jim Mitchell said. “We showed some signs of good rowing and racing and we showed some areas of needed improvement.’’

The Novice 8 boat also came home first as it clocked 18:48.58 to beat UCF by nearly two minutes. Weinard and Carney teamed up to take first in the Championship Pairs race as they worked the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course in 19:13.20. The duo topped Ottie and Brantman who were second in 20:11.99.

Mitchell said the first fall race served a dual purpose.

“It was a nice chance to mix some racing into our training plan,’’ he said. “We will take what we learn and put it into the works to prepare for the Head of the Hooch (Nov. 5 in Chattanooga, TN).’’

The team will play host to the annual Alumni Race Saturday at the Negaard Rowing Center at 8 a.m.