SATURDAY, MARCH 12, 2005
Rowing Opens 2005 Spring Season this Weekend
March 12, 2005
In his first season with the JU rowing program, Jim Mitchell directed the Dolphins to a successful run through the 2003-04 season by leading the squad to a pair of medals at the Dad Vail Regatta, three medals at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) and 3 state championships at the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association (FIRA) Championships. During the fall of 2004-05, the Dolphins continued to improve on their initial success with 10 medals at the FIRA Fall Classic, eight medals at the Head of the Chattahoochee and three medals at the First Coast Head Race.
The focus for both the men's and women's squad heading into spring competition in 2005 will be to gauge their level of performance after ending the fall season in November. Although winning races early in the season will be a plus, Mitchell believes the first few races will show the speed of each particular boat and what adjustments need to made as the season progresses.
The Dolphins will open competition at the Southeastern Regional Collegiate Sprints in Aiken, S.C. before heading off to the Rollins Invitational in Winter Park, Fla. After a week of spring break training camp, JU will host the Petrakis Cup against UCF, Tulane and Embry Riddle on the St. John's River. For the home stretch, the Dolphins will compete in the FIRA State Championship in Tampa, the SIRA Southern Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn. and the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia. Depending on the success of certain boats in the final three races, Mitchell said a few squads will go on to compete in the IRA National Championship in Camden, N.J.
After finishing with a silver medal in the Men's Novice 4 and a bronze in the Men's Varsity 4 at the Dad Vail Regatta last season, the Dolphin men's squad will look to build more success on the national level in 2005. With seven of eight rowers returning from the medal winning squads and six new freshman added to the novice program, Mitchell believes the Men's Varsity and Novice 8 and the Men's Varsity and Novice 4 will make some noise during the spring.
"Having two boats medal at the Dad Vail in one year is quite an accomplishment for our program," Mitchell said. "With our solid core of returnees and a very talented freshman class, we have an opportunity to do even more this season."
The Varsity 8 has traditionally been a staple of the JU men's program after winning four out of the last six FIRA State Championships. Mitchell says the goal for the squad in 2005 will be to win the state championship this season, finish in the top three at the SIRA Championships and make the finals of the Dad Vail Regatta.
The Novice 8 squad has not won a state championship since 1983 but Mitchell believes they will be a top contender to win the state meet, SIRA's and the Dad Vail in 2005. During the fall, the Dolphin Novice 8 squad lost to only Georgia Tech in southeast competition.
"I think our novice squad is one of the most talented groups that I've recruited," Mitchell said. "They have a great chance of winning those races and going on to compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships this summer."
Serving as a catalyst for the men's squad will be seniors Montia Rice, Sean Duffey, Ian Hamlyn and Ben Bowerman. Rice and Duffy, who serve as co-captains, are competing in their fourth year with the program and were members of the bronze medal squad for the Men's Varsity 4. Bowerman is also a four-year competitor who will man the Second Varsity 8 and the Second Varsity 4 this season. Hamlyn, who was in the silver medal Novice 4 last year, should be a mainstay in the Varsity 8.
On the women's side, the Lightweight 8 and the Varsity 4 will look to help offset injuries to the Heavyweight 8 squad in 2005. With three seniors returning and a core of freshmen competing on the varsity level, the Lightweight 8 will look to work its way into the national rankings.
"JU has never had a women's squad ranked nationally," said Mitchell. "Despite the injuries, we have the talent to make that a reality."
The Heavyweight Varsity 4 will also look to make strides this spring as six girls compete for four seats in a heated competition.
Leading the way on the women's squad will be seniors Lauren Calhoun, Hannah Bates and Lindsey Jackson. Calhoun will serve as a co-captain as she leads the Lightweight and Varsity 8, while Bates also helps anchor the Lightweight and Varsity 8 for the Dolphins in 2005. The duo helped the Lightweight 4 to a silver medal at SIRA's in 2004. Jackson will be a key component to the Varsity Lightweight 8 squad.
"All three of our seniors have been four-year starters for the program in the top boat," Mitchell said. "Each of them provides us with leadership while also raising the level of competition when we get on the water."
With a rich tradition and alumni dating back to its inaugural season in 1956, JU will look to build on its past successes and continue to raise the level of expectations for both the men's and women's squads.
"JU rowing has been one of the most successful programs at JU and we want to make sure that we continue to build on that tradition," said Mitchell. "We had a lot of success in my first season but we want to make sure our program gets recognized on a national level."