Temple’s drive to repeat in the men’s heavyweight eight at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta ran into some rough water Friday on the Schuylkill, almost costing the boat a spot in the final.
The Owls didn’t help themselves in the morning time trials, clocking a time that left them out of the two middle lanes on the six-lane, 2,000-meter race course and into a lane that was less advantageous.
Then in the afternoon semifinals, they needed to sprint in the final 500 meters to outlast Michigan and grab the sixth and final spot in the final. The Owls’ time of 6 minutes, 19.953 seconds was just .061 seconds ahead of the Wolverines, whose time would have won either of the first two heats.
But at least coach Brian Perkins could relax, somewhat.
“They went out in real tough conditions, they had a bad start, and they toughed it out,” he said. “I’m really happy. We had the toughest semifinal, no doubt, but everybody was tough. The Dad Vail semifinals are a tough, tough race all on their own.”
The Owls joined Drexel, which clocked the fastest semifinal time of 6:18.334, and St. Joseph’s (6:21.463) in Saturday’s final, which marks the conclusion of the 81st regatta. Temple and the Dragons also reached the women’s heavyweight eight final.
Temple advanced a total of 12 boats – seven men’s and five women’s – into Saturday’s finals. Drexel qualified for eight finals, four men’s and four women’s. It all sets up a duel for the overall points title, a competition the Dragons are seeking to win for the eighth consecutive year.
“It really was an overall great team performance, but it took so many individuals to be really just right on today as a team,” Drexel coach Paul Savell said. “I think that’s the best part. Really, I think we still have our best races ahead of us. I think there’s still a couple of more gears that each boat has.”
Temple, meanwhile, did what it had to do.
“Everybody’s in the finals, that’s all you can ask for,” Perkins said. “You’ve got to be in it to win it, and we’re in it. So we’ll see what [Saturday] holds.”
St. Joseph’s advanced three men’s varsity boats. The Hawks clocked the fastest semifinal time in the third varsity eight, 6:43.076, and also advanced in the junior varsity eight as well as the heavyweight eight.
Perkins described himself as “really bummed out” about his heavyweight eight boat in the morning time trials. It qualified with the ninth-fastest time, 5:51.745, more than 7 seconds behind pace-setting Delaware.
“I have guys that are fast every day and then they come out on Saturday and they do something dumb,” he said. “I keep telling people how fast they are and they’re not going through with it. But they pulled through in the afternoon.”
Temple and Drexel will be in the same final in eight events but they’ll also have to look out for the fast boats of other teams – MIT and Michigan on the men’s side, Boston University and Georgetown in the women’s races. The attention, however, will be on the heavyweight eights at the end.
“I think we have a big challenge ahead for sure,” Savell said. “There are people that didn’t even make the final that are really fast. So the people still left in the final six are going to be very tough. On the women’s side, you’ve got BU trying to repeat. It’s hard to repeat, but I see they are very quick. But I feel really good about our chances going into this.”