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MSU Crew hosts successful Head of the Grand Regatta

October 12, 2015

For more than 20 years, MSU has hosted the Head of the Grand Regatta, a collegiate and high school rowing meet. The 2015 edition of the competition was held last weekend.

Saturday’s high school competition, which featured more than 100 boats, was won by Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. The MSU Women’s Crew team and 11th year coach Matt Weise hosted the event.

The collegiate competition was held Sunday and was arranged by the Men’s Crew Club. Men’s and women’s teams competed in novice and varsity divisions. Seven schools competed in the collegiate regatta: Case Western, Eastern Michigan, Grand Valley State, John Carroll, MSU, Michigan Tech and Notre Dame. The schools combined to enter 92 boats total between the 10 events.

Grand Valley was awarded its third straight Regatta Cup, the event’s locally made trophy created by club adviser Prof. James C. Perkins in 2012, after finishing with the most total points based on finishes in each race. The Lakers won four total events, while the host Spartans won two.

The women’s team kicked off their season in September with a scrimmage against the University of Michigan, but this was the first meet of the season for the men’s team. First year Men’s Crew Club coach Bryan Pape said their performance today would help the team going forward.

“I think this is a great starting point," Pape said. "That first race, a lot of it is getting a litmus test, and getting a feel for how you stack up against the top of the field. I think we knew we were a little bit off the speed of the top couple programs. ... Now we know where we are and how much time we have to make up by May.”

Many athletes also considered this meet a tuneup for a long season.

“We’ve had maybe a month on the water and we’re just trying to iron out some wrinkles," chemical engineering senior Alex Vincent said. "I think it’s been very fruitful today. It’s (also) awesome to see all these schools here."

Both the women’s and men’s rowing teams practice at Grand River Park, where the event was held. This provided the Spartans with a home course advantage.

“(The benefits of playing at our home course are) having good lines and knowing where the fast parts of the course are," zoology senior Brandon Bristow said. "Just being comfortable with where you’re at in the race."

Other MSU Crew members agreed.

“It’s nice being at home, we know this river really well,” hospitality business junior Olivia Derbabian said.

For both rowing teams, the main focus is the spring season. Fall competitions and winter training provide preparation for the championship season at the end of the school year. For the women’s team, the Head of the Grand was a test of endurance, as its course was longer than what they race during the spring season.

“This is, give or take, a 12 minute race course," Derbabian said. "Normally 2000 meters is what we race in the spring, really just a straight shot. ... It’s a lot quicker, about seven minutes."

The Head of the Grand also provided an opportunity for rowers to participate in different events and see where their strengths and weaknesses lie. On both the men’s and women’s teams, lineups are switched for each competition.

“You want to leave the athletes the opportunity to grow into a new role if they’re ready for it, so nothing’s ever set in stone," Pape said. "Particularly as we get into the spring, things move around a lot."

Next up for both the Men’s Crew Club and Women’s Crew Team is the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston this weekend. Both teams will send one crew of their best and most experienced rowers to the East Coast for the biggest collegiate rowing event in America. The weekend of Nov. 7-8, the women’s team will race at Ohio State while the men will travel to Notre Dame for a dual meet.

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