"He's the biggest, strongest guy on our team," coach Drew Hill said. "He's always worked hard and set the standard for everybody else."
At yesterday's start to the 70th annual Dad Vail Regatta, in rainy and damp conditions on the Schuylkill, Adams and the small-in-stature Hawks posted a winning heat time of 5 minutes, 49.40 seconds. Their closest competitors were Florida Tech (5:50.41) and Bucknell (5:53.81).
The other seniors on the boat, which features four underclassmen, are Kevin Jacobs, Marc Malott and Adam Stoll.
"The seniors showed their experience," Hill said. "They didn't have their best row of the year, but they still managed to win."
Adams, who grew up in the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philadelphia, took up rowing at Father Judge after he broke his left wrist in two places in eighth grade, sidetracking his interest in football and basketball.
At Judge, Adams rowed for three seasons under 35-year coach Phil Roche. Another former Crusader, sophomore Tim Strybuck, is part of St. Joseph's varsity eight.
A highlight for Adams and company was winning last month's Bergen Cup Regatta, representative of the Philadelphia-area championship. It was the program's first varsity heavyweight eight title at the event since 1978.
In a semifinal today, the Hawks will square off against Temple, Florida Tech, George Mason, Lehigh and San Diego. The top two finishers will advance to the final, which almost certainly will include powerhouse and defending champion Purdue (5:45.80 heat time).
The Temple men's varsity heavyweight eight posted a winning heat time of 5:46.34.
"Purdue looks like the team to beat," Owls coach Gavin White said, "but there are several crews, including us, capable of winning."
The St. Joseph's women's varsity heavyweight eight won its heat with a clocking of 6:28.28. Temple (6:36.82) was the runner-up.
"I think we did pretty well," Hawks senior Elizabeth Sauter said. "In case the regatta was going to be canceled because of the weather, our coach [Gerard Quinlan] told us to treat it like it was the final."
Sauter, a product of Bishop Eustace, sits in the No. 6 seat. In what is a rare accomplishment, the 22-year-old from Cherry Hill is a four-year contributor to the varsity heavyweight eight.
"Every year, she brings something different to the table," Quinlan said. "Whether we need strength, endurance or a positive attitude, she brings it."
For results of the first day's events, go to www.dadvail.org.
Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or email@example.com.