THERE CERTAINLY WAS some home cooking going on at the 75th annual Dad Vail Regatta on the weekend. The largest collegiate rowing event in North America saw Drexel capture its first overall Dad Vail victory, and doing so in grand fashion with a men's overall victory as well.
As a dark and cloudy sky set the stage for the final day of the event on Saturday, Drexel was coming off an impressive day of competition on Friday. All 12 boats that entered the competition qualified for the final day. Those included nine first-place finishes and three second-place finishes. Of the 12 that qualified on Friday, nine boats were in final races on Saturday. It set the stage for a dramatic day of racing on the Schuylkill River.
With a sea of blue and gold all along the river and loud cheers from the local fans, the Drexel men's team won its first-ever gold medal in the heavyweight eight division with a time of 5 minutes and 42.605 seconds. The victory helped the Dragons capture the men's title with 30 points. Michigan, the 2011 and 2012 men's champion, was second with 26 points and Virginia was third with 21.
On the women's side, Drexel ended in a tie for third place with Massachusetts (15 points each), with Grand Valley State capturing the overall points total with 24 points. Bucknell finished second with 21.
The combined point totals from the men's and women's teams are used to determine an overall winner. With Drexel's men scoring 30 points and 15 from the women, the Dragons' 45 total points were enough for the overall championship.
GVSU finished second overall with 33 points, and third place ended in a tie with Bucknell and Michigan each having 26 points.
The Drexel men's team was led by senior captain Kurt Linton, who said that training on the course every day helped in many ways and made the victory that much better.
"We knew what our goal was coming into this year's Dad Vail Regatta and we wanted to get it done," the Linwood, N.J., native said. "We have a great group and I am proud of the entire team."
Drexel coach Paul Savell, who has been coaching the Dragons since 2007, was extremely proud of his athletes and commended them for an outstanding job.
"It's beautiful. This is everything they've been working for and it means so much to see it come to fruition," he said. "This was a very fast field with very talented schools and I could not be more proud of them."