The level of rowing competition throughout the Midwest has been getting faster. Winning at the regional tournament, therefore, has become more challenging. But it’s a no-excuses mentality for Head Coach Pat Connor ’94 and the Crew Cats—just work harder, race smarter and lay it all on the line every time.
That attitude fueled Saint Ignatius Crew to a second-place team finish at the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championships on May 11 and 12. The Wildcats sent ten crews into the Grand Finals and six walked away with medals, leading to 126 team points. New Trier, a deep competitor from the Chicago area, won the boys team trophy with 207.
In some impressive racing, the Wildcat Navy’s Junior 8 (a combination of 8 non-senior rowers) and Novice 4 (4 first-year rowers) each clinched Midwest titles. The first of those crews dueled with a strong crew from Upper Arlington, coming back from an early deficit to secure a 3-second victory.
In the Novice 4, four freshmen who had just returned from their bronze medal-winning Freshman 8 race, hopped into a boat and out-rowed the competition to their own championship. The victory capped a solid weekend for the first-year rowers from West 30th and Lorain, who also finished fifth in the Lightweight Novice 4 (first-year rowers under 150 lbs.). Despite some tremendous strides made throughout the year, the Wildcats’ 2nd Freshman 8 crew narrowly missed qualifying for the finals by a mere 2 seconds.
On the Varsity side, in addition to the Junior 8 win, Saint Ignatius had four 8-man crews and two 4-man crews in the hunt for medals. Although the 2nd Varsity 4 and Lightweight 4 did not end up on the podium, three 8-man crews did.
The Lightweight 8 (all 8 rowers under 150 lbs.) held off a fast-charging crew from Ann Arbor Huron at the very end of the race, snagging a bronze medal by a mere half second. In the 3rd Varsity 8 (3rd ranking boat), the boys in blue and gold threw down an aggressive race, but Orchard Lake St. Mary’s denied them a gold medal. The Wildcats earned a silver medal less than .7 seconds behind the Eaglets.
For the penultimate race of the day, the 2nd Varsity 8 (2nd ranking boat), Saint Ignatius kept the pressure on race winner New Trier and second-place Pittsburgh Central Catholic all the way down the course. In securing a bronze medal, the Wildcat Navy defeated the fourth place crew by nearly 10 seconds.
Lastly, in the Varsity 8 event, the blue and gold crew charged hard down the course from their position in Lane 1, which they ended up in after a difficult semifinal the day before. They pushed their way down the course, seeking to upend New Trier, Central Catholic and St. Edward. The end result was a much-improved race from the day before and a fourth-place finish in the Grand Final.
By virtue of their finishes, the Junior 8, Lightweight 8 and Freshman 8 each qualified for the SRAA National Championships set for May 24 and 25 in Zanesville, Ohio. In the Junior 8 event, Saint Ignatius has finished in the Top 3 at nationals each of the last two years.
Stay tuned to @SIHSrowing on Twitter for results. Let’s Go Cats!