1st Varsity 8+ Back in the Grand Final at the Knecht Cup

Trinity Men’s Rowing travelled down to Cherry Hill, NJ this weekend to race against top Dad Vail programs. While the Bantams will not be facing many of these crews again come May, the trip affords the team with an opportunity to face quality programs and acclimate to six-across, championship style racing. Highlighting the weekend for the Bantams was a fifth-place finish for the Varsity 8+, marking the first time in the Grand Final for Trinity since 2013.

The Varsity 8+ kicked off the weekend with their heat on Saturday morning against the Delaware lightweights, Virginia, and North Carolina. It was Delaware that led the way down the course on their way to the fastest time across the morning’s three heats. The Bantams were able to get themselves out front of the two ACC rivals to post the third fastest time of the morning heats and clinch a spot in the afternoon semifinals. 

The second race of the morning was a heat for the 2nd varsity 8, against UConn and three crews from the University of Delaware, two lightweights and a heavyweight. The fast-starting lightweights were too much for the Bantams and established a clear lead on the field in the early stages of the race, foreshadowing what would be a 1-2 finish for the two crews in the Sunday Grand Final. Trinity held on to the heavyweight Blue Hens in the first third of the race, but ultimately Delaware’s base was too much, forcing the Bantams to settle for fourth place and a spot in the Sunday petite final, ahead of fifth-place UConn.

The next race was the first of two semi-finals in the Varsity 8+ event. The semi-final saw a pair of two-horse races, with Mercyhurst and Michigan battling it out for first place in the semi-final, while Trinity went toe-to-toe with the Temple lightweights for the third and final spot in Sunday’s Grand Final. Temple had the advantage for much of the race, but the Bantams were able to make a move in the final sprint, beating the Owls by about three seats and earning a spot in the Grand Final, a first for the Bantams at the Knecht Cup since 2013. 

The final Saturday race was a heat for the 3rd varsity 8+. Racing against varsity crews from smaller programs Carnegie Mellon and St. Mary’s in the DII/DIII event, the Bantams took second place in their heat to advance to the final.

Sunday was finals day as each Bantam crew took to the water to determine their final placing for the weekend. The 2nd varsity went first, racing their petite final against Marietta, Delaware, Army, Virginia, and Rhode Island. The crew put up a much-improved performance over the previous day’s heats to finish third. The Bantams cut 8 seconds off previous day’s margin to Delaware, finishing less than 4 seconds behind the second-place Blue Hens.

The 3rd varsity was next to the line, facing off against MIT, Washington College, Carnegie Mellon, and Franklin and Marshall. The mostly freshman crew put up a valiant effort but ultimately came up short, finishing fifth.

The last race of the day was the final of the Varsity 8+, where the Bantams lined up alongside Michigan, Mercyhurst, Delaware Lights, Colgate, and Virginia. Like in their semi-final, the lead crews established themselves into a pair of two-boat races early on, with Delaware and Colgate duking it out for first place, with Michigan and Mercyhurst behind them battling for third. The Bantams were unable to keep up with the hot early place and held fifth for the majority of the race, finishing about a length down from fourth-place Mercyhurst. While the final hadn’t quite gone the way the crew had hoped, simply being there near the front with crews of this standard for the first time in 6 years is a significant step and bodes well for the remainder of the season.

Next week, the Bantams will head to Worcester, MA for a five-boat race against Ithaca College, Colby College, University of New Hampshire, and hosts Worcester Tech.

To see the full results, click here.

For more information regarding the race, click here.