Dad Vail Regatta ready to push off

More than 120 schools will race tomorrow and Saturday on the Schuylkill.

Posted: May 08, 2008

The 70th Dad Vail Regatta, scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday on the Schuylkill, will feature 124 entries, six more than last year, organizers said this week.

College crews will compete in the nation's largest college regatta in more than 150 races in 19 classifications.

Teams will begin arriving today for weigh-ins and practice runs.

Tomorrow at 7 a.m., the first of the daylong heats are set to go off. The semifinals will begin Saturday at 7 a.m., followed by finals in the afternoon.

By the end of Saturday, 57 boats will leave Philadelphia with medals.

Here is how some of the teams rate themselves for the big weekend.

"St. Joe's returns to the Dad Vail with six core members of our 2007 silver-medalist varsity eight," said Gerard Quinlan, the women's coach at St. Joseph's. "Practically every member of our varsity boats was in the Dad Vail finals last year. Our freshman eight has lost only one race this season and that was to nationally ranked Clemson. We feel strong entering into the championship portion of our season.

"There is a lot of parity on the women's side. The difference in speed among the top 12 or 15 teams is very slight. The team that does not make a mistake will win."

Temple men's coach Gavin White said Purdue appeared to be the team to beat.

"We have a pretty experienced crew, but we've had our ups and downs," White said of the Owls.

"We have five experienced rowers from last year, which finished second" in the men's varsity eight.

"Of these, four have rowed together for four years at St. Joseph's Prep before coming to Temple."

The St. Joseph's men are coached by Drew Hill.

"We have high expectations for the three boats - the varsity heavyweight eight, the junior varsity eight and the freshman eight," Hill said.

"Our boats seem to get faster each week. We've been rowing against such non-Dad Vail schools as Penn, Georgetown, George Washington and Trinity."

Villanova coach Jack St. Clair has high hopes for his women's team.

"Our kids are unpredictable yet capable," St. Clair said. "They are not the strongest group I've had, but they work hard and are dedicated."

Allison Humphreys is the new freshman women's coach at Villanova. She rowed at Bishop Eustace High before going on to Holy Cross.

Cal State-Long Beach coach Steve Guentz is high on his varsity four.

"Our men's varsity eight should do pretty well, too," he said. "We have a pretty good all-around field of athletes in all our boats, even though most are inexperienced."

Massachusetts women's coach Jim Dietz said his team has momentum.

"We'll have several boats with us and, after good results in the Atlantic Ten, we expect to continue the momentum and medal with most of our people," he said.

The Dad Vail Regatta is named for coach Harry Emerson "Dad" Vail, who coached at Wisconsin in the early 1900s.

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