It was the opportunity Temple’s men’s crew wanted to grab hold of after waiting two years to make amends for a disappointing performance in the men’s varsity heavyweight eight race at the 2019 Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta.
The Owls prevailed Saturday in a three-way battle with George Washington and Drexel to win the featured event of the 82nd Dad Vail on a cool and windy day on the Schuylkill, winning their second heavyweight eight in three years and their 22nd overall in regatta history.
Temple crossed the finish line in 5 minutes, 29.581 seconds, barely one second better than the second-place Colonials, with Drexel taking third. With the win, the Owls captured the men’s points trophy for the first time in program history.
Drexel, which had its streak of six consecutive overall points titles broken in 2019 by Temple, again took the overall points crown, 48-45, with the Owls in second place.
Head men’s crew coach Brian Perkins said the Owls were attempting to combine their achievements of 2018, when they won the heavyweight eight plus the freshmen and JV eights, and 2019, when every male rower made a final at the Dad Vail.
“So in ’20 I thought we had a good trajectory but we couldn’t get there,” he said, referring to last year’s cancellation of the regatta because of the pandemic. “This year our goal was to combine those two years. We had 61 competitors and all 61 made a final, and we were able to score in enough events to get the points trophy. We’re really proud of the guys.”
The varsity eight crew waited two years to make up for a crushing fifth-place finish in the 2019 race. William Hooper, one of four fifth-year seniors on the boat, said the thought of it entered his mind Saturday before the start.
“You don’t get many opportunities like that, so we really had to seize the opportunity, which we were able to do,” he said. “It was a really surreal feeling crossing the finish line in first place with a great group of guys. A lot of guys took an extra year just to come back and race this race, and to be able to get the men’s points trophy and the varsity eight championship trophy is really special.”
Temple’s men also won the freshman/novice eight and the lightweight four races. The Owls’ women captured the third varsity eight competition and took second in the junior varsity eight.
The Drexel women held off Princeton to capture their varsity heavyweight eight race for the second time in their last four Dad Vails. The Dragons were clocked in 6:22.387, less than two seconds ahead of the Tigers.
“They were so tough,” Drexel men’s and women’s rowing coach Paul Savell said. “They really just dug down and found another gear and were able to keep edging their boat further and further out in front. That Princeton team is really good, really fast. So it was great competition out there.”
The Dragons also posted victories in the women’s junior varsity eight and the men’s third varsity eight. They reached the finals in 12 events, divided equally between men and women.
Princeton, competing for the first time in the Dad Vail for as long as any regatta official could remember, took the women’s points title over Drexel and Temple. The Tigers won four events — the varsity heavyweight four, the doubles, the pairs and the singles.
St. Joseph’s finished fourth in the overall points competition, capturing fourth place in both the men’s and women’s heavyweight eight and second in the men’s third varsity eight. La Salle notched a second-place finish in the women’s freshman/novice eight.
The Dad Vail was slimmed down from its usual two-day competition to one day due to the pandemic and a late start in attracting entries, but still welcomed more than 45 teams and 1,100 rowers this year. No spectators were allowed to watch the races but there was plenty of excitement.