Despite the fast start by their cross-city rivals, the Owls stuck to their game plan.
The Freshman 4 boat, led by coxswain Kait Funck, immediately began trailing at the start. The distance only got wider when Drexel and Villanova took a commanding lead for the first 500 meters of the race.
“They had about a boat length on us,” Bob Byrne said. “The mentality at the start was we were going to get killed at this rate, like bad.”
After settling into their base rate, the Owls eventually pulled up alongside Drexel near Strawberry Mansion Bridge. The Freshman 4 took the lead from the Dragons with less than 1,500 meters to go, leaving the Wildcats in the distance.
With less than 20 strokes remaining, the Dragons and the Owls battled for position as Temple had a 2-seat lead. But, the Owls never looked back as they crossed finish line with a two second lead – earning gold in the event.
Byrne said hearing the beep at the end of the race was a great feeling, as the Owls were able to hold off Drexel with a time of 6:45 seconds.
“It was fun,” coach Gavin White said. “We knew we had a good Freshman 4 so it was nice that they won a gold medal.”
Both Varsity 8 boats took second place in Bergen Cup. About 600 meters into the second Varsity 8’s race, the boat experienced misfortunes when the Owls hit an object and came to a complete stop, wasting valuable seconds. Temple dropped back into third place in a race that featured two Drexel teams, St. Josephs University and La Salle. Yet, there was a resurgence in the Owls as they took over second place. But the Owls ran out of time as they finished two seconds behind the Drexel’s “A” team.
Midway through the Varsity 8’s race, Drexel pulled away from the Owls as they finished behind the Dragons in a time of 6:05 seconds. The Varsity 4 boat finished in fourth position with a time of 7:17.
“We have two weeks to straighten everything out,” White said. “We will figure something out. We have some tricks up our sleeves.”
Within those two weeks, White said the Owls will focus on their strengthening, starts and there might be some changes in the boats. While Byrne is happy with his boat’s performance, he said with two weeks until the largest intercollegiate regatta in the nation his boat needs to improve on its stroke rate.
The Owls will compete in the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill on May 9.
Danielle Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Dan_Nels.