Revamped Varsity 8 boat aiming to best local schools

The Dad Vail Regatta is set for May 12 and 13 on the Schuylkill, where the Owls look to beat City 6 rivals Drexel University and St. Joseph’s.

Temple practices on the Schuylkill in preparation for Saturday's Bergen Cup Regatta in April of 2017. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN | TTN FILE PHOTO

The goal for the Varsity 8 boat at the start of this season was to get in sync.

That meant eating meals together and practicing three times per day.

“We’ve all come a really long way in getting to know each other and becoming good friends,” Baldo said. “It has definitely contributed to our continued improvement as a group.”

When the Owls went out on the water for the first time this past fall, they needed to replace four members in the Varsity 8 boat.

Last year, Charles Anderson, Tom Robbins, Brian Reifsnyder and Evan Hammond led the boat to a third-place finish at the Dad Vail Regatta, giving Temple its first medal at the event since 2008. The team also made its first trip to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship since 2003.

The current boat is made up of junior coxswain Samuel Vecchione, seniors Robert Byrne and David Buckley, juniors Collin McKinney, Tyler Baldo, Austin Dunn and Austin Theuret, sophomores Joseph Leyland and Stephen Gennaro. Baldo, Theuret, Leyland and Gennaro are all new to this boat as of this season.

Although coach Brian Perkins said it is a young group in terms of age, the boat does not lack rowing experience, as almost all nine have been rowing for at least seven years, and some of them come from rowing families.

“It’s funny because this group shows all of the characteristics of being a very immature team,” Perkins said. “They’re a little moody, they can be inconsistent from day-to-day at practice, but they’re fun to work with, and they have shown improvement every time that boat touches the water for a race.”

Regardless of how much experience they gained separate from each other, the rowers had to develop chemistry and teamwork.

When the Owls raced in the Murphy Cup on the Schuylkill on March 25, the Varsity 8 finished in 5 minutes, 54.9 seconds to place fifth out of six teams. Temple finished 12.39 seconds slower than St. Joseph’s, which placed first.

The Owls raced against St. Joe’s again at the Bergen Cup this past weekend. The Hawks finished in first with a time of 5:39.39, while the Owls finished in third, cutting the gaps between them and the Hawks to just 5.4 seconds.

Temple will race against St. Joe’s and Drexel University, which finished second at the Bergen Cup, in the Dad Vail Regatta on May 12 and 13.

“We were able to close a seven-second gap in just three weeks,” Baldo said. “We’re going to face them again in another three weeks at Dad Vail, and they’re for sure going to be one of the teams to beat.”

With an upcoming opportunity to fulfill their season-long goal of beating Drexel and St. Joe’s, the Owls’ have now entered all-business mode.

“There was definitely a transition for all of us, especially the new guys at first,” Dunn said. “It may have taken a little bit of time at first, but we’re past that and we’re ready to race as we try and close out this season on top.”

Dan Wilson can be reached at or on Twitter @dan_wilson4. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.

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