Temple Rowing still finding their stroke after Murphy Cup

The group finished with a single bronze medal at the 2023 Murphy Cup Regatta after winning gold last season.

Temple Rowing is satisfied with their results despite average finishes against top teams. | MAGGIE FITZGERALD / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Rowing entered the 2023 spring season coming off of one of the best years in program history. The team won the Murphy Cup Invitational on their home river last April for the first time since 1995 and secured a fourth-place finish at the American Athletic Conference championships last April.

After the Doc Hosea Invitational was canceled due to inclement weather, Temple rowing was back on the river hosting the 40th annual Murphy Cup Regatta on the Schuylkill on April 8.

Temple medaled in the Second Varsity 4 race, receiving the bronze in their first event of the season. Despite only medaling once this season after a strong performance and several medals at the Murphy Cup Regatta last year, the Owls are still holding their heads high. 

For a team participating in their first regatta of the season, a bronze medal is not a poor first result. Even though they put on an average performance, the Owls are expecting first and second place medals during the course of their competitions to continue their momentum from last season.

“I think for our first official race of the season it was a strong start,” said head coach Rebecca Grzybowski. “I think we are still working across the board on putting together a complete race from start to finish, but it’s early enough in the season, there’s still a lot more speed to find over the next couple of weeks.”

Although no other boats placed in the top three, the team still showed effort throughout. To Grzybowski, the event is just another learning experience.

“Effort I never question – effort is always high on this team,” Grzybowski said. “We pressure ourselves in practice every day, but nothing can really prepare for racing like racing, so when you’re out there, there’s a lot of lessons that get learned along the way.”

Temple rowers shared the same spirit as their head coach because the team has participated in less competitions this year compared to other teams. 

“I think overall it was a good showing out for our first official spring race,” said Lucy Keslar, senior coxswain for the Varsity 8 boat. “It’s always good to come out and race against other people, so overall a really good opportunity and a very good showing out.”

Given the cancellation of the Doc Hosea Invitational, Temple had just one scrimmage this season before the Murphy Cup. However, with more practice and time, Temple will have many more opportunities to find their speed.

The loss of two all-conference rowers Nadia Bangura and Elaine Tierney was evident in the defeat as well. Communication from senior leadership is crucial in rowing, and relying on a younger roster this season will take time. 

“I think that there’s a lot of speed to find between now and our championship, and I think we’re in a very good position to find that speed and carry it through the rest of the season,” Keslar said.

Philadelphia native Riley Gorman was victorious in the Second Varsity 8 last year at the Murphy Cup Regatta, and even though the result was not the same this year, she’s still very optimistic.

“I think we worked really hard in practice; we just weren’t able to execute fully today,” said Gorman, a senior. “But we’re happy because everything’s really a learning experience, overall, I think we got really good data, and the only way is up.”

With more than a month until the Dad Vail Regatta in Camden, New Jersey, Temple Rowing will compete two more times, looking to continue improving. On Saturday, they faced off against several top programs like Tulsa, Miami and Michigan State at the Michigan State Invitational and despite not recording their best times, were pleased with the outcome, Grzybowski said. 

It was the first time Temple traveled to Michigan State for races, so the change in scenery and varied water conditions impacted their results. 

Despite the undesired outcome, both the coaches and rowers recognize it’s simply part of the season-long process towards improvement.

“It’s just about putting it together again consistently over the full 2,000 meters, so I feel really positive,” Grzybowski said. “I feel optimistic, I think the team does as well, and we’re excited to get back to work on Monday.”

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