Rowing celebrates seniors at Saturday regatta

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The weather on the Black Warrior River was considerably kinder on Saturday morning than it had been in the days immediately preceding the Alabama rowing team’s Senior Day regatta. The Crimson Tide took full advantage, sweeping Eastern Michigan University in four 2,000-meter races on Saturday in its spring debut.  

“When you can race the way you practice, it’s a good day,” said Alabama head coach Glenn Putyrae. “Preparation has been going on since September. [The team did] what they do every day, and that’s one of the things that we’re really working with them on.” 

Alabama set the tone with a 9:12 time in its first race, outpacing Eastern Michigan by 43 seconds. The ensuing fours race saw the Crimson Tide crews cross the finish line ahead of the Eagles’ crew by more than two minutes.  

The Crimson Tide rounded out the morning with two more wins in eights races, finishing ahead of Eastern Michigan by 50 seconds in the third race with an 8:38 time. Alabama’s crews in the final race crossed the finish line with times of 8:10 and 8:15. Eastern Michigan had a 9:02 time in the morning finale.  

Once the competition was complete, it was celebration time for the seniors and graduate students. Putyrae touched on the fact that the group has had to overcome tremendous adversity throughout their careers.  

“I think their greatest gift is their demonstrated resilience through everything they’ve been through,” he said. “This is the class that had their first season cut short, and this is the same class that had their second season be very challenging. [They have] faced a ton of adversity when it comes to external things that they can’t control. … For them to have made it to this point and be having success in their senior year — I think it’s really awesome.”  

Graduate student Gianna Rucki was encouraged by Saturday’s result and said she believes the program is in good hands going forward. 

“Being a part of it for five years now, it’s been really amazing to see how it’s changed since I began here. It gives me so much hope that this program is in great hands with the new leadership that’s rising and all of the new faces coming in,” Rucki said.  

Senior Blythe Markel said she felt celebrated and that it was nice to spend time with her teammates and supporters.  

“I felt really celebrated by the girls and our teammates,” Markel said. “It was just a really nice day to go out, enjoy a beautiful day on the water, have a win, and just spend time with each other.” 

Both athletes spoke on the importance of staying consistent throughout the season. 

“The girls stayed really focused on what the end goal is,” said Markel. “There’s no single race that’s going to be the peak or the stopping point for us. It has to be all the way through … just constant acceleration.” 

“This is just the beginning,” Rucki said. “We have so many races ahead of us. Each race is going to have its own goal, its own way that we’re going to keep progressing forward and eventually earn that bid for NCAAs.” 

The team will travel to Tennessee next to compete in the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational from March 18-19. 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]