The Saint Joseph's men's rowing team capped off one of its most successful seasons with a strong effort at the 2017 IRA National Championship on Lake Natoma, in their first appearance since the current qualification format began in 2009.
The Hawks qualified three boats for the championship. The Varsity 8 started out the event finishing sixth in its heat but finished strong competing in the D Level Final and placing third behind Oregon State and Hobart. The Hawks' boat was comprised of: c- Caroline Bird; 8- Jack Darling; 7- Riley McGwin; 6- Garren Best; 5- Slam Dunkley; 4- David Wong; 3- Keenan Perry; 2- Thomson Rymer; 1- Claudio Recchilungo.
The Second Varsity 8 also ended up in the D Level Final and posted a fourth-place finish behind Drexel, Florida Tech and Oregon State. SJU's lineup was: c- Jenn Reynolds; 8- Matt Conlin; 7- Joe Sullivan; 6- Matt Ladd; 5- Kevin Lichtenfels; 4- Devin Swech; 3- Andrew O'Connor; 2- Eric Jones; 1- James Hammerstedt.
SJU's Third Varsity 8 started out fourth in its heat and posted a third-place finish in Semifinal 3. The Hawks then competed in the C Level Final and garnered fifth place behind Brown, Oregon State, George Washington and Stanford. The Hawks' lineup was: Fiona Conway; 8- Justin Hawkins; 7- David Gee; 6- Justin Aikens; 5- Trevor Tuthill; 4- Josh Bostrom; 3- Bobby Lojewski; 2- Michael Thompson; 1- Julian Palermo.
“Our entire program has come a long way since June of 2016. We were the rookie program in the IRA field this year and we had to pay our dues in the early races. Each boat found a way to put together a stronger final and that gives us incentive for the future,” said head coach Mike Irwin.
In 2017, Saint Joseph's took home two gold medals and one silver from the Dad Vail Regatta, marking the most medals since 2010. SJU posted its highest ever Varsity 8 finish (second) since the 1999 crew grabbed a silver and also won the Varsity 8 at the Bergen Cup, for its first title since 2008. The Hawks graduate six seniors from the history-making squad - David Wong, Keenan Perry, Matt Ladd, Matt Conlin, Caroline Bird and Matthew Weiner.
Washington won the overall team title and the Hawks placed 19th in the team standings, ahead of Florida Tech, Hobart, Drexel, Santa Clara and California- San Diego.