BY LUKE REYNOLDS
PHOTOS BY BARRY HOUCHIN
After a two-year Covid-induced hiatus, the 2022 American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship brought life back to the club college rowing scene.
The break didn’t come without consequences, though. Michigan’s longtime head coach Greg Hartsuff recently told Rowing News reporter Sofia Scekic that the virus had disrupted the collegiate club rowing ecosystem.
“I don’t have a single guy on my team who’s raced a full season in a varsity boat,” Hartsuff said. “The seniors were freshmen last time they had a season and they rowed in that category. It’s pretty clear to me the pandemic really hurt the club teams, the ACRA teams, more than it did the varsity teams,” Hartsuff said. “Entries are down across the board across the country, and a lot of it is our sophomore classes. I’ve got only two sophomores [this year].”
This weekend, though, on the shores and on the water of Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the hard-fought battles of keeping collegiate club rowing alive paid off as athletes were finally back in boats, rowing together and competing at the highest level of ACRA rowing.
It was a triumph.
George Washington University—a program that was stripped of its varsity status in July of 2020 due to the virus—was a bright light at the event, winning the men’s eight grand final with a time of 5:52.994. The crew was coxswained by Luke Ames, who graduated from George Washington May 16.
“I am feeling so proud of the guys in not only the varsity eight, but the entire GW family for being resilient through the past year,” Ames said. “This win means so much to us. We wanted this race to be a statement to the rowing community that we are still here and we are still excited to compete.”
Ames was joined by Patrick George, Brian O’Rourke, Clement Banwell, Maximilian Hanna, Noah Axford, Oliver Broadrick, James Canfield, and Gaspard Cuvelier.
In the women’s varsity eight grand final, the Grand Valley crew of coxswain Stephanie Bruck, stroke Hannah Shorkey, seven-seat Emmeline Dyer, six-seat Isabel Albaitis, five-seat Hailey Engvall, four-seat Anna Foster, three-seat Emili Barth, two-seat Rebecca Kelley, and bow-seat McKenzie Sandel won the event with a time of 6:54.083.
Purdue and Middlebury rounded out the top three in the event.
Grand Valley had a busy weekend overall with nine entries at the regatta, picking up another win in the women’s 2nd varsity eight grand final, besting Purdue and Vermont.
All in all, more than 68 clubs participated in the event across 23 events, with just about every flavor or rowing imaginable.
“Hats off to the entire ACRA Regatta,” Ames said. “We were welcomed with open arms. The team is excited to come back next year.”
For a complete list of results, click here.