Fourth-year coach Rebecca Gryzbowski thinks the future looks bright for her program.
The Owls set new marks at Saturday’s American Athletic Conference championships on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, California.
Temple finished third out of the six teams competing at the event. The finish was the Owls’ highest in the conference’s three years of existence. The team finished fourth in 2014 and 2015.
“Every year we make exponential gains,” Gryzbowski said. “Last year we had some significant speed on the freshman end of the squad with the novice seats having a phenomenal run. … To see that translate to the upper level varsity boats this year is great.”
At last year’s conference championships, the varsity 4 boat claimed the Owls’ first medal at an NCAA event with a third place finish.
On Saturday, the Owls’ varsity 8 boat had its best finish at the conference championships. The boat finished third. It was the first time the varsity 8 boat medaled at the event. Last year the boat missed out on the grand final.
“To have the varsity 8 make a jump from a second flight finish last year to a real medal podium finish, that was a huge jump,” Gryzbowski said. “It was a big step in the right direction for the program.”
Including the varsity 8 boat, Gryzbowski’s squad grabbed three medals at the event. The third varsity 4 and third varsity 8 boats both won gold medals.
“That’s the future of the program right there,” Gryzbowski said. “Both of those boats were made entirely of novice, walk-ons. So there’s a lot of potential in those boats. It’s exciting.”
Saturday’s race marked the last in the careers of eight seniors, who came to Temple in Gryzbowski’s first year.
Janine Augustyn, Kelsey Franks, Grace Kroner, Emily Leyland, Emilie Mehler, Aimee Meissner, Emily Opperman, Lily Papaleo and Nicole Stark have watched the program improve each year under Gryzbowski’s watch.
In Gryzbowski’s fourth season as the Owls’ head coach she credits the continued improvement to the senior class.
“We have eight seniors that have done an awesome job helping with that growth that we’ve talked about,” Gryzbowski said. “We’ve seen huge increases in speed in my four years here. I thought they did a really phenomenal job as leaders.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue