Not even one day removed from a 19th straight first-place finish at the Murphy Cup Regatta, and men’s crew coach Gavin White was at the wheel of a Ford 350 Turbo diesel halfway across the country. White, along with the men’s and women’s crew teams were in the middle of a 3,000 mile trip to the San Diego Crew Classic this weekend.
After the Temple men’s Varsity 8 crew team took first place with a time of 5:48.2, seven seconds ahead of Saint Joseph’s, there wasn’t too much time to celebrate. Besides, after nearly two decades of winning the Murphy Cup, White’s phone doesn’t ring as often with friends and family calling to congratulate him on the team’s success.
But this year was different. The men’s Varsity 8 didn’t win its qualifying heat for the first time in White’s 22 years at Temple. The Owls took that personally, even though they went on to win the race.
“When you win it that many times, you might take it for granted, but I don’t” said White, who spoke Tuesday from Phoenix. “But kids are kids, and sometimes that’s how they can be. That’s why we lost our heat and kids took it to heart.”
This year’s crew team returned seven of eight members from last year’s contingent. The men’s Varsity 8 was 11 seconds slower than last year’s team, which finished the season ranked No. 10 in the country. The Owls are looking to build on that ranking.
“Times are totally irrelevant,” White said. “Maybe this year’s crew is slower than last year’s crew. On paper we should be even a little better than last year. We’ll be better.”
The weather conditions at this year’s Murphy Cup were more suitable than last year’s sweat-soaked, ripple and crosswind infested affair.
In other races, the men’s Varsity ‘B’ boat took first place in a time of 6:47.2 while the freshman/novice 4 team beat Penn State by 11 seconds for first place. The women’s Varsity Lightweight 4 took second place in 7:50.12, while the women’s Varsity 4 boat ‘A’ finished third in a time of 7:37.
Chris Silva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.