Commencement has come and gone but we still have Syracuse Orange athletes competing for national titles this Spring. Once again the men’s and women’s rowing teams have advanced to compete for National Championships. The women will head to Sarasota Florida for the NCAA Championships on May 25-27 while the men will be going to Mercer Lake, New Jersey for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship June 1st-3rd.
The women had to wait and see if their 2nd-place ACC finish would give them the final push into a third consecutive NCAA at-large bid (Being on the NCAA bubble isn’t just for Syracuse Basketball)
It will be a bittersweet NCAA competition for the Orange women as Head Coach Justin Moore announced that he will be stepping down to pursue a new rowing venture. Moore feels as though the program is in a great position and that it’s going to be a job which will attract quality candidates. He added that he’ll miss being part of community where sports matters.
When Moore and I spoke this week, he told me that he’s proud to be included in this field ”being one of the 11 at-large teams is special and he speaks to the tremendous strides taken by this team.” Syracuse joins five other private institutions in the 22-team field and the team had to overcome some interesting weather challenges this season. “April was a frustrating month” was what Moore told me as the late cold and snow in Syracuse complicated the normal training routine. He added that the team had to work even harder to deal with the adverse conditions and that it impacted their training, but Moore said that in the two weeks leading up to ACC’s the “speed starting coming up” and the performance at that competition showed that this team is peaking when it counts.
The Orange will enter the competition as the 16th seeded boat in the 8s and 15th seed in the 4s. Moore’s hoping to see Syracuse improve on their 13th place finsh the last two years and he’s excited for the team to “get a crack at Indiana and Washington State” the two teams seeded right ahead of the Orange.
Coach Moore was also proud of his team for earning the inaugural Cuse Cup which honored the team that had the best combination of athletic accomplishments, academics and community service. Two members of the Orange will compete for spots on National teams this summer. Junior Arianna Lee will attempt to make the US Under-23 team while Sophomore Lucy Pierce was invited to compete for a spot on the Australian Under-23 squad.
A 7th place finish at the Eastern Sprints gave the Syracuse men their third straight automatic qualifier to the IRA Championships. Since men’s rowing is not a NCAA-sanctioned sport the IRA is the National Championship and it’s where the Orange will challenge the best crews in the country.
Syracuse last won the Varsity Challenge Cup, presented to the Heavyweight Eight Champions, in 1978. The Orange finished 8th at the IRA last year and will head into this year’s competition as the 9th-ranked team in the country. Syracuse will enter three Varsity Eight Heavyweight boats and one Varsity Four boat at Lake Mercer.
According to Head Coach Dave Reischman the goal this year is to get all three of the Varsity Eight boats into the top 10. “We challenged our guys at the start of the year to finish with all 3 of our eights in the top 10. Last year our Varsity was 8th but we really wanted to focus on our depth across all our boats. All 3 of them should be seeded #9 or #10 heading in to the IRA National Championships so we are on track.”
Like the Orange women, the April weather presented a challenge to the team but Reischman feels like his squad did a great job of dealing with the conditions and not making excuses.
“The guys are focused on having a good 3 weeks of training so we can try to finish this year off right. The IRA is ALWAYS the most intense racing of the year and tenths of a second really matter.”
Like the women, the Syracuse men are led by athletes with international experience. Dom Santora and Noah Messner competed last summer for the US Under-23 team and later this summer Messner will tryout for the US Men’s Senior Team. Also heading to tryouts will be Junior Nick Tavares who will attempt to make the Canadian U23 team.
In addition to these individuals, the Syracuse Men will take a group of athletes to England to compete in the Henly-Royal Regatta from July 4th-8th.
Good luck to both Syracuse teams as they prepare to take on the best crews in the country.