Men’s season winding up with championships finish
Practice this week was a three-way battle. Play Video
Practice this week was a three-way battle.
The JU men’s rowing team begins its championship season this week as it goes to Sarasota, Fla., and the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association (FIRA) regatta, an event the Dolphins have won five years running.

While buoyed by success in the meet, coach Jim Mitchell is hesitant to say his team is a lock for number six which begins Friday with some heat races and continues in earnest Saturday.

“There are a lot of unknowns but I have confidence based on the past,’’ Mitchell said. “It’s hard to go in it with full confidence and I don’t like to do that anyway because you never know what’s going to happen in a race. We’re going to go and find out where we are. The confidence I have is our guys will do the best they can and we’ll evaluate where we really are.’’

Among the items casting a bit of doubt is that the team hasn’t had as many races this season as in the past and this week’s practice has been conducted in wind, choppy water and fire smoke.

Nonetheless, championship time is here.

“This is the beginning of the championship season,’’ Mitchell said. “We had some races earlier on, maybe not as many as usual, but this is the start of the championships and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger every weekend.’’

The FIRA is important not only because the Dolphins are five-time winners, but the point system is based on each boat’s finish and JU will enter seven craft.

“It essentially shows the strength of the team as a whole,’’ Mitchell said. “Each boat earns points based on finish; every boat matters no matter if it’s the men’s varsity 8 or the men’s freshmen 4. It’s always been a priority to me is to be strong as a whole team and show our depth as a team.’’

Other teams in this week’s race are: Florida, Florida State, South Florida, UCF, Tampa, Embry-Riddle, Nova University, FIT, Rollins, Stetson and out-of-state invitees Georgia Tech and Emory.

Following this week’s event, which runs both Friday and Saturday, the stakes increase as the team moves to Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships in West Windsor, N.J. and the Dad Vail in Philadelphia.