The excitement surrounding the return of the Temple women’s rowing team to the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta had been building since last fall, when the Owls learned that their hometown meet and the American Athletic Conference championships would not be held on the same May weekend.
“We waited four years to race at Dad Vails,” senior captain Dani Ober said Saturday. “Seeing the men do so well last year, we were all so excited when we got the announcement this year at the beginning of the season that we were going to be able to race. Today has been the most exciting day.”
The wait was worth it for the Owls, who won three events on a sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast day on the Schuylkill to lead their team to both the overall team points championship and the women’s points title. It marked only the second time in their history that they had captured both, doing it the last time in 1996.
Temple rolled up victories in the junior varsity eight, the third varsity eight and the junior varsity four en route to 31 points in the women’s competition. Added to the 21 points accumulated by the men, the Owls scored 52 points to break Drexel’s six-year reign as the overall champion.
The Dragons did win the men’s points crown with 27 points, capturing the freshman/novice eight along with the junior varsity eight, and took second overall with 46.
Temple women’s coach Rebecca Smith Grzybowski said she was impressed with the way her team stepped up their level of performance Friday and Saturday.
“We didn’t have a single person on the team that had raced at Vails, so that definitely was a big motivator for them,” she said. “For them to feel the hype of the Vails is so exciting. It means so much to the city of Philly, Temple rowing means so much to the city of Philadelphia. So to be able to be a part of all the excitement was really something special.
“I think they really took the energy and ran with it today. I thought that’s really fun because it could very easily have been a distraction and they channeled it and used it in the right way. I was very proud of them.”
Ober, who held the No. 5 seat on the winning junior varsity boat that crossed the finish line in 6 minutes, 26.860 seconds, said she knew her team was ready because “all of our boats have been putting up impressive times and impressive places all season.” She also enjoyed the way both teams contributed.
“We’re just like one big Temple family so it’s really cool that we were able to do this today,” she said.
The Temple men finished second in both the freshman/novice eight and the lightweight eight to assist in the team effort.
“It feels good,” Owls men’s coach Brian Perkins said. “Something like that is a sign of the health of both programs. The men and the women both did really well. The women really carried the regatta this year.”
Drexel had two close seconds in both heavyweight eight races. Its men lost to Colgate by just over three-tenths of a second, while the Dragons’ women saw their late rally fall short against Boston University.
“I’m really so proud of the whole team,” Drexel coach Paul Savell said. “Everybody gave every single thing they had. I felt like they all really rose to the occasion.”
St. Joseph’s rolled up 19 points in just three events, including a victory in the third varsity eight, to finish third among the men.