Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
The Duquesne men’s club rowing team is rebuilt and poised to revive its legacy this year as they compete in some of the toughest regattas in the nation.
Established in 1986, the men’s rowing team has had a great deal of success over the past years. The club has medaled in national and regional regattas (races) including the Head of the Ohio, the West Virginia Governor’s club and the most prestigious race of them all, the Dad Vail Regatta.
With spring training looming just around the corner, the team is starting to prepare themselves for the upcoming season.
Junior captain Zachary Johnson explained that the team is beginning to get ready for the season.
“Right now we’re just doing winter training, just putting time in,” Johnson said. “After spring break, we’ll start going back out on the water. There is a lot of us and we all have to put the same time commitment in.”
The team’s other captain, Mike Vera, explained how the oarsmen are readying themselves.
“Three days out of the week, we’re in the rowing machine,” Vera said. “We’re lifting one day and the other we are just doing cardio. It’s a lot of training but once we get on the water, we are going to start preparing ourselves for the regattas.”
The team will compete in two regattas this season but depending on how they do, they may be eligible to race in the Dad Vail Regatta, the championships of club rowing.
Come race time, the Dukes will head to New Jersey to compete in the Knecht Cup. Coach Brian DiSalles believes his team’s opponents will provide a good challenge.
“That is a good race because we see a lot of competition from Philly,” DiSalles said. “Philly has a lot of good programs for rowing like Villanova for example.”
Following the Knecht Cup, the Red & Blue will compete in the Murphy Cup which is also held in New Jersey.
Johnson said that the Dad Vail Regatta will be the most important event all year for the team.
“Our main goal is to do well at Dad Vails,” Johnson said. “It’s our biggest race of the year.”
The team has had its fair share of struggles like most club teams do.
“It’s a small team. We don’t really have the same resources as a lot of the other teams here like basketball or football,” Vera said. “We operate through things like media relationships.”
The team had a hard time keeping some of their interested prospects last year to stay on the team. The Dukes did gain a valuable oarsman over the off-season though. Sophomore Tom Harris is a transfer student from Jacksonville College in Texas where he had a scholarship for rowing. Vera really likes their chances this year with the current squad.
“We have around 10 guys so we have one varsity boat and one novice boat,” Vera said. “This season it’s nice because we have a really committed boat. We have good hopes for this coming season.”
The Dukes will open up their season on April 12, when they compete in the Knecht Cup in West Windsor Township, New Jersey.