Temple did not set out yesterday looking for merely a good showing in the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill. The Owls expected nothing but a gold medal to return the program to its former dominance.
The anger and devastation on the faces of the eight-man varsity heavyweight crew as it crossed the finish showed that it was unable to do either.
"I thought we had come into our own and we were ready," said junior Bob Protesto, a St. Joseph's Prep graduate. "This was the worst feeling in the world."
The Owls earned a silver medal with a time of 5 minutes, 44.83 seconds, coming in behind Purdue's gold-medal time of 5:42.59.
The event used to belong to Temple. The Owls won 13 in a row from 1989 to 2001 and had taken first in 20 of 22 races until they lost in 2004 to Michigan.
Last year, Marietta stole Temple's crown. Yesterday, the Boilermakers did the Owls in.
Temple coach Gavin White loathes this trend.
"The thing that concerns me the most is that we've gotten used to losing," White said. "It's hard to break that cycle. It's the same with winning. It was where we were bigger than life to a lot of these teams. Now it's like, 'Whose turn is it to beat Temple this year?' "
Like his rowers, White was certain that this was the year the Owls would return to the top. Temple entered with confidence after beating Marietta, Purdue and Florida Tech - which were all in yesterday's final - at the SIRA Regatta in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The Owls came in second to Virginia there last month.
Strong performances seemed to indicate they were ready for yesterday's race.
"I would have bet my house we would win," White said.
Temple seemed to be in trouble nearly from the start.
Purdue took a quick jump on the Owls, which some of the rowers said rattled them.
"The boat was flopping all over the place," said freshman stroke Pat Curran. "No one was together. It was panic mode most of the race. . . . Guys started trying to pull the boat by themselves instead of working together. It just wasn't good."
By the time the rowers reached the Columbia Avenue railroad bridge, Curran said, he knew the Owls were in trouble.
"I started getting scared at the bridge because I couldn't even see [Purdue] out of my peripherals anymore," he said.
The Owls closed the gap near the end, but there was not much left that they could do at that point.
White said he could find nothing wrong with the race strategically other than the need to emphasize a stronger start. Purdue won the men's points title with 25, four more than Temple. The Boilermakers also won the overall team championship with 46 points. St. Joseph's was second with 31, followed by Ohio State's 29 points.
The St. Joseph's women finished second in the varsity heavyweight eight (6:34.49) to Purdue (6:31.36). The Hawks edged out Massachusetts (6:47.35) for silver.
The Hawks tied for third with Massachusetts with 17 points for the women's title. Ohio State won with 22 points to beat Purdue by a point.
The local highlight was the victory by Philadelphia University in the women's novice heavyweight eight (7:04.48), beating Ohio State (7:08.12) and Connecticut (7:08.61). The team had just started a program this season, and many women had never even rowed before they joined the team.
"Our coach said to go out and make history," Maureen Agnew said. "It felt great."
While Temple struggled to find a silver lining after its disappointing day, the Owls said they would start to focus on next season. Of the varsity eight, only two are seniors.
"We're going to be fine next year," Curran said. "This isn't going to happen again."
Men's Varsity Heavyweight Eight Final (Richard O'Brien Trophy)
1, Purdue, 5:42.59. 2, Temple, 5:44.83. 3, Florida Tech, 5:46.19.
Women's Varsity Heavyweight Eight Final (Evelyn Bergman Trophy)
1, Purdue, 6:31.36. 2, St. Joseph's, 6:34.49. 3, Massachusetts, 6:37.35.
Women's Varsity Heavyweight Eight Divisions II and III Final
1, Dowling, 6:38.67. 2, Grand Valley, 6:45.21. 3, Orange Coast, 6:49.96.
Men's Varsity Heavyweight Eight Second Final
1, Lehigh, 5:53.43. 2, St. Joseph's, 5:57.4. 3, Rochester Tech, 5:59.3.
Men's Varsity Lightweight Eight Final (Thomas W. Loschiavo Trophy)
1, Georgia Tech, 5:55.06. 2, St. Joseph's, 5:56.24. 3, Mercyhurst, 6:01.55.
Women's Varsity Lightweight Final (Dennis Kamrad Trophy)
1, Ohio State, 6:52.98. 2, California Long Beach, 6:56.75. 3, Buffalo, 7:03.29.
Men's Varsity Heavyweight Four Final (Thomas A. Curran Cup)
1, Dowling, 6:21.68. 2, Georgia Tech, 6:29.36. 3, Boston College, 6:32.96.
Women's Varsity Heavyweight Four Final (Margaret McNiff Trophy)
1, San Diego,: 7:23.33. 2, Penn State, 7:23.69. 3, Lafayette, 7:27.73.
Men's Varsity Lightweight Four Final (James J. Lynch Trophy)
1, Fordham, 6:29.3. 2, Penn State, 6:31.89. 3, William & Mary, 6:35.96.
Women's Varsity Lightweight Four Final (Robert Espeseth Trophy)
1, Pittsburgh, 7:24.65. 2, Lawrence, 7:32.19. 3, George Mason, 7:35.3.
Men's Junior Varsity Heavyweight Eight Final (Ernie Bayer Trophy)
1, Temple, 5:58.75. 2, Lehigh, 6:03.55. 3, Jacksonville, 6:09.35.
Women's Junior Varsity Heavyweight Eight Final (Coleman D. Boyland Trophy)
1, Buffalo, 6:53.35. 2, Dayton, 6:56.43. 3, Purdue, 6:57.9.
Men's Varsity Pair Final (Bob Negaard Cup)
1, Buffalo, 7:01.83. 2, Iona, 7:10.4. 3, California Long Beach, 7:12.03.
Women's Varsity Pair Final
1, California Long Beach, 7:57.27. 2, Georgia Tech, 8:13.27. 3, Tampa, 8:18.77.
Men's Freshman/Novice Heavyweight Eight Final (Lev Brett Bowl)
1, Bucknell, 6:04.91. 2, Delaware, 6:07.22. 3, St. Joseph's, 6:08.9.
Women's Freshman/Novice Heavyweight Eight Final (Sara Vaughan Trophy)
1, Philadelphia University, 7:04.18. 2, Ohio State, 7:08.12. 3, Connecticut, 7:08.61.
Men's Freshman Novice Lightweight Eight Final (Brendan Lynch Cup)
1, Florida Tech, 6:14.91. 2, Georgia Tech, 6:16.74. 3, Purdue, 6:22.03.
Men's Freshman/Novice Four Final (Lindy Cup)
1, Temple, 6:34.98. 2, Ohio State, 6:42.86. 3, Minnesota, 6:44.49.
Women's Freshman/Novice Four Final
1, Purdue, 7:31.92. 2, Duquesne, 7:32.95. 3, Marquette, 7:38.04.
For more results, go to www.dadvail.org.
See a slide show from yesterday's regatta at http://go.philly.com/photos.