In rowing, unlike in other sports, there is no ground to rest on. There are no sidelines, no time-outs, and the water is the only boundary.
The men’s and women’s crew teams combined to finish first overall at the 23rd annual John J. Murphy Cup along the Schuylkill River on Saturday. Over 18 schools brought their men’s and women’s four- and eight-rower boats to race along a 2,000 meter stretch at the event honoring the former Temple alumnus.
“So far I’m happy with what we are doing,” said Tim Hagan, first-year coach of the women’s team. “We are improving each week. Our boats are getting faster.”
The Owls took second place in the main race of the day, the men’s Varsity 8, in which the winner receives the Murphy Cup. The team’s 5:49.5 finish was three seconds behind Saint Joseph’s.
The women’s Varsity 8 and Junior Varsity 8 won their respective races, while the Novice 4 and Novice 8 claimed second-place finishes.
It was the first time the men’s Varsity 8 had ever lost the main race. Coach Gavin R. White said he was upset with the team’s second place finish.
“We got second place and that’s disappointing,” he said. “It stings a little bit.”
Although the Owls lost the Murphy Cup, they took home the Sean Brennan Trophy for overall points scored by both the men and women’s teams combined.
Each varsity or junior varsity boat is steered by a “coxswain,” somewhat like a captain. The coxswain is the only member to face the front of the boat. He or she sits at the front or rear, steering and yelling at the crew of four or eight, depending on the boat, to stay in unison. In rowing, the team that rows in rhythm usually outraces the team with the strongest rowers.
The Owls started the competition with a second place finish in the men’s Varsity 4 qualifying heat, followed by a first place finish in the Freshmen/Novice 4. The two men’s Varsity 8 teams also captured first and second place in their qualifying heats.
For the women, the qualifying heats began with a fifth-place finish by the women’s Freshman/Novice 8 and a third-place finish by the Varsity 8.
In the finals, the women’s Lightweight Varsity 4 and Freshman/Novice 4 both finished in fourth place, while the women’s second Varsity 8 finished third with a time of 7:01.1. The women’s Varsity 8, led by junior coxswain Sarah Evancho and rowers Stephanie Hanlin, Rachel Jordan, Nicole Warrick, Ulan Luciw, Leah Silverstien, Regina Rahill, Callie Gunnet and Kristen Hermann, placed fourth (6:48.2).
The men’s Varsity 4 finished in fourth place, while the Freshman/Novice 4 took second in the finals with a time of 6:58.7.
The men’s Varsity 8 consisted of coxswain Carmen Conicelli, oarsmen Andreas Mantzoukas, Matt Hanlin, Chris Bushek, Don Powers, Bill Gennaro, Patrick McMahon, Mike McVeigh and James Harding.
Murphy was a former Temple oarsmen who was killed in a hit-and-run car accident in the summer of 1981. The men’s crew team would use his memory as inspiration to an undefeated record the following season and an Olympic gold medal two years later.
The first Murphy Cup was held in 1983, between Temple and then-heated rival Marietta College. It was originally a race between just the two schools until others began to compete, making it a legitimate regatta.
Kurt West can be reached at email@example.com.