BY Kenneth Ekert
The Sacred Heart University rowing team ended their fall season on Nov. 10, at the Fall Mets in Orchard Beach, N.Y. The team competed in 1500 and 2000-meter races against Albany, Manhattan, Iona, Fairfield and State University of New York Maritime.
Sacred Heart competed in three races at the event – the Varsity 8, the Varsity Four and the Frosh/Novice 8.
According to row2k, which is an official rowing publication website, Sacred Heart finished in fourth place in the Varsity 8 at 7:15, which was a minute and 10 seconds behind winner Manhattan. They took second place in the Varsity Four, by finishing in 9:01.9, one second behind Fairfield, who finished in nine minutes.
“We were able to close the gap a lot on Fairfield, which is a team that has been beating us for a while and is a team that is very hard to catch on the water,” said junior co-captain and Spectrum writer Caroline Bolletino. “We were in a very close race with them [Fairfield], and it was the closest we’ve ever been.”
Sacred Heart and Fairfield had faced each other the weekend prior to the Mets, at the SHU Scare Regatta. The event took place in Fairfield on Nov. 3, and Fairfield wound up winning all four races at the event. The “Scare” was originally scheduled for Oct. 27 but was pushed to Nov. 3 due to inclement weather.
“The ‘Scare’ was started three years ago as a scrimmage between SHU and Fairfield University so we could add another race to the NCAA requirement of completing a certain number of races in order to qualify for the MAAC Championship,” said head coach Nicoleta Mantescu.
In the Frosh/Novice 8 event at the Mets, Sacred Heart was represented by an “A” team and a “B” team. According to row2k, the “A” team won the race in 5:23.9, while the “B” team finished in third, 20 seconds later. The “B” team finished ahead of Iona and Fairfield while finishing behind Albany.
“The novice stood out because they have worked so hard this season,” said Bolletino. “The boats were full of a lot of new rowers and walk-ons who did not know much about rowing before this year.”
The team added 22 new members to their roster for the fall season, with 16 of them being freshmen.
“The season was very demanding considering that most of the newcomers were walk-ons,” said Mantescu. “But it is great for the future of the program.”
Even though the fall season is not as competitive as the spring season, the team remained driven, and they understood what each new member of the team had to show for themselves.
“Getting all the newcomers to learn our rowing techniques is a big plus because usually recruits come in with different styles,” said Mantescu.
Senior co-captain Danielle Varely believes that the team will be able to improve when the spring season arrives.
“It’s not the easiest waking up at 5 a.m., but everyone always has a smile on their face and the mindset of a competitor,” said Varely.
Bolletino and Varely were named co-captains of the team on Oct. 18.
“Caroline and I knew that we had to set a good example for the rowers with high expectations,” said Varely. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the work we will put in during the offseason and the rewarding results in the spring.”
Bolletino said that the team’s mood and performance in practices and races depends on how she and Varley reach out to the rowers.
Mantescu believes the two captains will be big role models for the other 37 rowers in the water, in the classroom and around the Sacred Heart campus.
“We are very lucky because for the first time in a long time, we have two captains that work great together and their unity reflects on the team unity,” said Mantescu.