GAINESVILLE, GA -- The Orange Coast College men's crew capped off a very successful 2013 season with a pair of national titles at the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championships, held at Lake Sydney Lanier this past weekend.
In all, 29 rowers made the trek out to Georgia for the championships and when the final race was finished, all 29 rowers earned a medal at the national competition. "That is very rewarding," OCC head coach Paul Prioleau told the local media in regards to the medal count. "They are a great bunch of kids to have. They are a strong bunch and they are very spirited. These kids got out there this weekend and never looked back and I am awfully proud of them."
In the Men's Varsity 4 race, the group of Austin Gentry, Joe Morris, Kaleb Prichett, Ben Webster and coxswain Kenzie Shoneman had to battle back down the stretch to successfully defend last year's championship. Trailing the University of Virginia and Purdue University at the halfway point, the Pirates dug deep and found that extra gear to top the field with a time of 6 minutes, 36.8 seconds. Purdue (6:38.1) finished second, while George Mason (6:45.1) took third.
"During the weekend, we had been able to get the boat out front early, but the championship race made for a nervous situation," Prioleau said in an interview with the Gainsville Observer. "Instead of fighting the boat, they let the boat do the work and that made the difference. That took a lot of maturity and patience. The sport of rowing is a team sport and all the links in the chain have to be strong for success. They exhibited that today."
Another OCC national championship came in the Men's 2nd Freshmen/Novice 8 race, as the Pirates claimed victory with a time of 6:18.8. The University of Michigan finished second at 6:22.9, while Notre Dame (6:39.4) finished third and UC Santa Barbara (6:43.1) placed fourth.
OCC's crew of Cody Roberts, Hayes Dollis, Cody Raphael, Jourdan Richman, Joe Martin, Angel Galvan, Sean Buck, James Paino and coxswain Helena Cosentini led the race from wire to wire to earn Coast's fifth national title in the school's 60-year history.
In the other Men's Freshmen/Novice 8 race, the Pirates were edged out at the wire by the University of Virginia, which took home the title with a time of 5:55.3. In what turned out to be a two-boat race down the stretch, OCC was the only other sub-six-minute boat and finished second with a 5:56.6. The University of Michigan finished third at 6:04.3.
In the finals of the Freshmen/Novice 4 competition, the Pirates finished third overall with a time of 6:46.7, behind the first-place tie between Bucknell and Michigan (6:40.7 each).