Ahead of the curve
Photo by Julie Whitcomb Play Video
Photo by Julie Whitcomb
A little more than a week into the men’s rowing team practices, coach Jim Mitchell has found a ray of hope that may bode well for the upcoming season.

“We’ve done some testing of the guys to measure where their fitness levels are,’’ Mitchell said. “It has been good. We’re ahead of the curve of where we were last year; we’re pulling better numbers as a team than we did last year. That gives us a little bit of hope but it doesn’t mean we’re going to be faster.’’

Despite the solid early start, Mitchell warns there is a long way to go and there are some unknowns also.

“We still have to do a lot of work and we don’t know where our competitors are this time of year and if they’re faster than last year,’’ he said. “However, if we continue the gains that we’ve gotten training-wise and we continue to focus on our technique and we have the camaraderie through the team and they work well together, it shows to be a good year.’’

Although reluctant to single out individuals, Mitchell did look to a pair of rowers – Bernard Vingilis and Scott Del Vecchio -- as examples of high training regimens.

“There’s been a lot of them,’’ Mitchell said. “We usually don’t name out one or two guys because with an eight-man boat every one of them is important. You’re only as fast as your slowest guy.’’

Vingilis (from Lithuania) has been doing really well so far and is getting stronger and stronger every day,’’ he said. “He’s been our fastest guy so far. And Del Vecchio (from Indialantic, Fla.) is another one who has come back in pretty good shape, but a lot of them have and that’s what matters.’’

Mitchell continues to stress entire team building as time goes on because the entire crew working in unison makes the difference.

“If we only have one or two fast guys it doesn’t mean we’ll have a fast boat,’’ he said. “In some other sports you might have standout player and they might help pull the team along but it doesn’t really work that way in rowing.’’

Mitchell said the team is staying with its plan to not be on the water for any significant time before mid to late February.

“ We’ve been sticking to our guns and continue to do a lot of work on the rowing machines, a little running and a lot of strength training in the weight room,’’ he said. “We’re really focused on getting the levels of fitness and strength that we need to before we get on the water.’'

And, there’s another little benefit to waiting.

“We want them to be a little antsy when we get on the water,’’ he said. “We want to use it as a carrot, so to speak ,to make sure they get where they need to be.’’

The men’s season opens March 10 in Fellsmere, Fla.

-- Jim Nasella