For the first time in two years, the Crew Cats will be competing in the Midwest Championships. The Wildcats travel to Lake Dillon in Zanesville, Ohio, this Saturday as racing begins around 11 a.m. The Wildcats last timed race on April 17 against Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the Rustbelt Catholic Championship; the Crew Cats made tremendous progress this season. Since then, Saint Ignatius has competed in scrimmages against Upper Arlington and Westerville, where the Wildcats posted many first-place finishes.
On Thursday, the Crew Cats wrapped up their final practice before heading down to the Midwest Championships at the Cleveland Rowing Foundation. The varsity eight boats are chomping at the bit to compete at Lake Dillon and Head Crew Coach Connor Walters ’09 reminisces the last time that Saint Ignatius rowed at the Midwest Championships. “Everyone is excited and these kids have been training for two years for this moment,” Walters explains. “The last time Saint Ignatius Crew raced at Lake Dillon, they won a National Championship.”
Senior Mark Kitka is a leader in the varsity eight boat and can be found in seat four. The senior leadership from the Crew Cats is evident and these student-athletes are putting the final touches on what they hope will be a successful weekend in Zanesville. “We’ve been tapering this week, not a lot of high-intensity stuff this week,” says Kitka. “When we get into the short workouts of five and 15 minutes, we’re excited because we get to attack it with major focus.”
The senior leadership continues with Peter Turk, who is seat two in the varsity eight boat. “We’re nervous but extremely excited,” Turk explains. “We know we can do well at Midwest because of the work we’ve put in every single day. We’re determined and hopeful to put good points on the board for this weekend.”
“I’m proud of all our seniors for how they’ve led this team,” Walters says. “From last March to now, they’ve stayed motivated and kept working, and everyone has followed suit; I’m glad they can race this weekend.”
There has been a significant push since the Wildcats’ last timed competition against Pittsburgh Central Catholic and coach Walters has witnessed his guys coming together as one. “I have noticed that they have become much more consistent,” Walters explains. “They are trusting and believing their race plan and these guys are fast in the water.”
“The past couple of weeks have been a grind; we’ve learned a lot about ourselves,” says Turk. “We’ve been working to improve our results heading into Midwest weekend.” The Wildcats will have a chance to build off their previous two scrimmages leading up to this upcoming weekend.
As the Crew Cats prepare to put their boats in the water at Lake Dillon, the rowers know what they have to do to succeed this weekend. “Remain consistent for the weekend,” Kitka says. “If we go out and execute our race plan, we’re set up pretty well for success.”
“This is significant and we have to show up and do what we’ve been preparing to do, Walters says. “There are some nerves, but the job is pretty straightforward.”
The Wildcats will be competing against familiar foes such as Upper Arlington and Central Catholic and hope to come out ahead at the Midwest Championships. With only a couple of races left in the spring season for Crew, the Wildcats are hungry to make noise in Zanesville.