BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh rowing team opens its spring season on Saturday at the Murphy Cup. The Mountain Hawks begin the spring where they ended the fall - on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The squad has been working hard through the winter season to build upon a strong fall finish.
Many of the top contenders for the Dad Vail Championship will compete this weekend. A strong batch of competing teams include Temple, Saint Joseph’s, Drexel, Delaware and Jacksonville, among others. There will be over 20 Varsity Eight boats competing for both the men and women.
“This will be a very good and tough first test of our speed for the spring season,” said Lehigh head coach Brian Conley. “It will allow us to learn - like we did in the fall - where we are and what we need to work on to have success in the championship races. For us to have success, we will need to take the little time that we’ve had on the water and make it work for us by finding an aggressive and strong racing rhythm in the new lineups.”
The Mountain Hawks wrapped up the fall season with their best performances. They started on Saturday, Nov. 13 by winning five races at the Frosbite Regatta before claiming two gold medals at the Braxton Regatta the following day. That carried that over into the winter where the squad has worked hard in preparation of the spring.
“We spent a great deal of time on the erg (rowing machine); that is the best direct offseason tool we can use,” said Conley. “We really stressed the importance of improving each and every day. No matter how small or how big a margin, improvement was the goal. We spent twice a week in the weight room which allowed us to strengthen all our bodies to increase our performance and reduce injuries.”
Conley has seen a marked improvement through the winter.
“Already we have seen much more consistency in the varsity lineups and the freshmen have seen great improvements where some have even pushed members of the varsity,” he said. “This is great to see as it keeps everyone honest and pushing hard. It will be exciting to see where we are. I know that we have improved a great deal, but I am sure our competitors have too.”
Last year’s Murphy Cup was highlighted by Lehigh’s women’s Varsity Pair placing second in its respective final and a pair of men’s crews - the Varsity Four and Novice Eight - earning spots in the Grand Final. The Novice Eight went on to finish third while the Varsity Four placed fourth.
“The team has been working very hard all year and they saw success at the end of the fall that they carried into winter training,” said Conley. “The idea of getting off the erg and back on the water to line up next to a crew is always the best feeling after a couple months training and racing yourself on the machine. The team is looking forward to this first test and has set high standards for itself.”