The Wheaton Crew team put their hard work to the test this past weekend at the fall season’s first competition, known as a regatta, in Oklahoma City at the Oklahoma Regatta Festival, medaling in a field of high-quality programs like Alabama, Kansas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma State, showing that Wheaton Crew is made of pure grit.
The fall rowing season for the Wheaton Crew team began two weeks ago on the Fox River of St. Charles, Ill.. This is where the Women’s Novice 8, the Women’s Varsity 4 and the Men’s Varsity 4 boats have spent early mornings on the water fine-tuning their form and power, working on connecting strokes as a boat and learning what it means to pull hard for each other.
Wheaton competed in two of the events offered. The first was a head race of 4000 meters (2.5 miles) in distance. Unlike a typical sprint race, where boats are lined up neatly on starting blocks, a head race begins on a river where boats start racing by entering the course one by one through a chute, and finishes are determined by individual boat times as opposed to who crosses the finish line first.
The Men’s Varsity 4 raced in a smaller pool of 7 boats, though with a much tighter competition. The men made quite a statement by finishing over two boats from Baylor and one from Texas A&M, earning a bronze medal in a strong field. As a small school in a pool with such big schools with large programs, the men have made quite a statement about their ability. The men are looking forward to competing in the largest rowing regatta in the world, the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, Mass. on Oct. 20, 2018.
The team’s newest members — members who have been on the team for less than two seasons — are called novices. In the head race, the Women’s Novice 8 found themselves against Texas A&M, Wichita State and Southern Methodist.
After a hard-fought battle in their first race, after only two weeks on the water prior to race day, they took fourth place right after Texas A&M. Coxswain Layla Landerlos described her satisfaction with the boat, saying that “[Novice 8] fought hard and are looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season brings.” Landerlos feels confident about the continuous improvement her boat has seen and will continue to see.
The Women’s Varsity 4 found themselves in a large pool of 23 quality boats for their head race. Coming up to the start with excitement to see the fruits of their efforts, the women held a consistent stroke rating and fended off any boats behind them. The women came in 21 out of 23. Though the numbers did not show the hard work the women had put in over their two short weeks together in the boat, Women’s captain Micaela Braddi was thrilled to see how quickly the women were able to connect as one unit and compete against boats who have been rowing together for multiple seasons.
Additionally, the crew team took advantage of an event unique to this location: 500-meter night sprints. Coach Gary Bohlin notes this event as an excellent experience because it is hosted at the Oklahoma City Riversport Olympic Training Center under stadium lights, emulating an Olympic experience. As described before, for a sprint race the competing boats line up at the start and sit ready to race. As soon as the officials say, “ready … row!” a beep signals the start, sending the boats down a straight course as fast as they can go. Not many schools stayed to participate since the race was so late at night, so the Women’s Varsity 4 and Men’s Varsity 4 found themselves in a race of four boats and five boats, respectively. The women’s teams finished fourth, and the men’s team finished in fifth.
Wheaton Crew was satisfied with their first races of the season as the evening came to a close while watching fireworks over the Oklahoma River. They look forward to racing again on Oct. 13, 2018 at the Nashville Music City Head Race.
BOAT LINEUPS: WOMEN’S NOVICE 8+: C: Layla Landerlos S: Jess Skledar 7 Ashley Varnedoe 6 Anna Hernandez 5 Jensi Shaw 4 Ada Yuan 3 Rachel Varvara 2 Valerie Halim 1 Sarah Lee
WOMEN’S VARSITY 4+:
C: Caitlyn Kasper S Lauren Breederland 3 Kenzie Buchan 2 Bailey Koenig 1 Kari Orth
MEN’S VARSITY 4+: C:
Aaron Doci S Justin Wesley Weaver 3 Isaac Green 2 James White 1 Owen Phoenix
Coached by: Gary Bohlin