Lightweight V4+ Crew Wins National Title
GOLD RIVER, Calif. – The Navy lightweight rowing team had a memorable end to its 2017 IRA National Championship competition on Sunday. After a day off from racing on Saturday, the Mids came out rested and ready to take on the nation’s best on Lake Natoma on Sunday. The Mids’ varsity four stole the spotlight as the boat won its respective grand final and won the national title for its class. As a program, Navy’s three boats all turned in strong results and helped it rank fifth overall in the team point standings.
Racing in the grand final of the varsity four with a coxswain, Navy led wire-to-wire and dominated the six-team field with a scorching time of 6:26.595. Harvard finished runner-up, 5.756 seconds behind at 6:32.351. The V4+ crew for this weekend’s championship-winning effort was Creighton Tarrant, Hank Forsythe, Sam Haber, Drew Bennett and coxswain Cullen Harper. The national title was the first by a Navy lightweight crew since 2012 when the Mids’ V4 boat won its event final.
Navy’s varsity four without a coxswain also found itself in the hunt for a medal in its respective grand final. While Harvard and Princeton went one-two well in front of the field with times of 6:06.700 and 6:10.144, Cornell and Navy were neck-and-neck throughout the 2,000-meter stretch of water on Lake Natoma. The Big Red edged the Mids by 0.375 seconds at 6:17.729 to 6:18.104. The V4- boat consisted of Ian Best, Brant McGuigan, Ben Skinner and team captain Matthew Walsh.
"Coming out of the qualifying heats on Friday, we had a sense that both the fours had the ability to contest for medals,” remarked head coach Shawn Bagnall. “The fours, led by Coach Sands and a solid group of newly commissioned officers, did not disappoint. Winning an IRA Championship in the Varsity 4+ and coming within 0.4 seconds of a bronze medal in the Varsity 4- put on display the strong work that these young men put in after the Eastern Sprints and during Commissioning Week in Annapolis.”
The last race of the day saw Navy’s varsity eight crew going head-to-head with Georgetown in a two-boat petite final. After just missing out on qualifying for the grand final on Friday, the Mids made sure to leave little up for debate with a three-second improvement from Friday with a time of 5:54.299 that defeated the Hoyas (5:56.123). The petite final win gives Navy’s V8 crew the number seven overall national ranking. The nine Mids in the boat over the championship were Clay Jackson, Ben Capannari, Kaden Dohm, Austin Treubert, Andrew Schutta, Matthew Shirey, Anlon McGuigan, Noah Chaskin and coxswain Grace Albertson.
“After Friday, we felt that the eight had a much better race in their wheelhouse and they showed that today,” said Bagnall. “We spent a good deal of time on selection for the Varsity 8+ following Eastern Sprints looking for a combination that would compete to put us in the Grand Final. While this new, young combination put together a great first 1250 meters on Friday and battled to punch their ticket to the Grand Final, they fell a bit short on the back end of the piece. It was sort of a microcosm of this season where our young athletes, both experienced and walk-on, continue to learn to be consistent and poised in an extremely competitive league. The petite final today for the eight was a more composed and solid piece, and we have not heard the last of the seven athletes that will return next year from this lineup.”
Harvard finished atop the team point standings with 61.5 points as they cleared Cornell and Penn, who each recorded 57 points. Princeton was fourth with 51 points before Navy notched 49.5 points to rank fifth overall.
“It's an honor each day to work with these men and women, and the team continues to shape an extremely bright future,” exclaimed Bagnall. “The outgoing 2017's, and those classes before them, have laid a tremendous foundation for the returning athletes and incoming Class of 2021. We look forward to seeing what this team can accomplish in 2018. Go Navy!"
Navy – 5:54.299 (7th overall)
Georgetown – 5:56.123
Varsity Four w/coxswain
Navy – 6:26.595 (National Champion)
Harvard – 6:32.351
Dartmouth – 6:32.587
Columbia – 6:36.677
Penn – 6:40.388
Princeton – 6:46.914
Varsity Four w/o coxswain
Harvard – 6:06.700
Princeton – 6:10.144
Cornell – 6:17.729
Navy – 6:18.104 (4th overall)
Penn – 6:21.925
Dartmouth – 6:25.620