April 26, 2013 by Michael Angelina
It was a big weekend on the Schuylkill River, as the Drexel crew teams defended their local river well. The Dragons captured seven gold medals April 20 at the Kerr Cup Regatta.
The men’s varsity eight headlined the long list of Drexel winners. It marked the third consecutive year that the varsity eight won the gold medal, as their time of 5:42.6 put them on top for the Kerr Cup.
“I just thought it was good we separated ourselves as much as we did,” captain Kurt Linton said.
Another contender from the men’s side was the second varsity eight boat, which finished on top with a time of 5:58.6. Additionally, the freshman eight finished first with a time of 5:38.6, and the men’s lightweight four recorded a winning time of 6:50.1.
With a time of 6:31.6, the women’s varsity eight came less than three seconds away from topping first-place Washington College and joining their male counterparts as cup-winning Dragons. Their second-place finish would be supported, however, with three gold medals from three other women’s boats.
In the women’s second varsity eight race, Drexel won rather easily with a time of 6:46.2. The freshman eight’s boat captured first place by the narrowest of margins, holding off La Salle University by just fractions of a second, clocking in at 6:11.8. The varsity four’s finish at 7:14.3 allowed them to grab the seventh and final medal of the day for Drexel.
Overall it was a very successful day for the Dragons, and head coach Paul Savell was especially pleased to win his third Kerr Cup.
“We were real pleased with the race,” Savell said. “The cup has been growing each year, and I feel like the team is on track. The bottom line is we were pleased with our progress.”
He was also glad to preserve and honor Drexel’s history and the traditional regatta. The Kerr Cup is named after the founder of Drexel’s crew program, Thomas Kerr Jr.
“It’s big in the way that the history of our team is on the line,” Savell said.
Kerr established the program in 1957 and served as the team’s first head coach. His family, including his grandchildren, was on hand for the regatta. Naturally, there is extra pride obtained when winning as the host of an event named in honor of the program’s founder.
“It’s nice to win when you’re the host,” Savell said.
The Kerr Cup was one of three regattas in Drexel’s current homestand for both the men and women. The two teams now turn their attention to a pair of big races April 27. The men are set to compete in the Bergen Cup regatta, which pits the Philadelphia schools against one another. Savell looks to ride the momentum from the big win on Saturday, saying that the Dragons are in a “good position,” as that they have already competed against some of the schools, including a few last weekend.
“The guys are going into this race in a good situation,” Savell said. “We’ve seen all the other Philly schools, and we’ve beaten them this year.”
They will enter the regatta with confidence but are aware that nothing is certain.
“That’s no guarantee of what happens, but we do have confidence from that,” Savell reiterated.
It may be an even bigger regatta for the women, who get set to compete on the Schuylkill, just as the men are, but in the Kelly Cup, where they will look to defend their title as reigning champions.
“This is a very big race for the women’s varsity eight, so we’re really looking for them to step it up and have a big race here,” Savell said.
The home-river advantage should benefit Drexel, according to Savell. “It’s nice knowing the specific landmarks, as well as when and where to maneuver. However, it also is beneficial because there are [fewer] things to worry about,” he said. “It’s a nice home-field advantage to go to your own boathouse, carry your boat and put it on the water. It’s easier than having to worry about catching the bus and logistics like that.”
Including last weekend, this upcoming weekend and the legendary Dad Vail Regatta May 11-12, this is a big homestand for the Dragons. Savell is using it to get the teams clicking and have them rested. Last weekend set the tone and set them on their course.
“These three races are going to be home races, getting guys rested and back on the home course,” he said. “So it was the first of the three that we wanted to start into our temper phase.”
It is progressively preparing both his teams to win the Dad Vail, the current goal for the crew teams, and last weekend was a good start.
“I thought that was a good sign coming into this weekend and heading toward Dad [Vail] next week,” he concluded.