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Coast To Coast

Coast To Coast

Thursday, July 17, 2014

When a national title comes down to one 2,000-meter race, sometimes the road to the championship gets overlooked. For the Orange Coast College men's crew, the 2014 American Collegiate Rowing Association Championship, held at Lake Ranier, GA was pulled off with a total team effort and belief in the Pirates' system.

“Just three days before the regatta, we discovered that two key team members could not make the trip due to last-minute eligibility issues,” OCC head coach Paul Prioleau said. “We had to re-configure the lineup and re-rig the boat to a configuration that we had never tried before.”

With several question marks and a lineup of some of the top rowing teams in the nation, the Pirates had to dig deep as the Novice 8 race began.

“Before the race, we talked about staying loose and relaxed on the warm-up and to focus on rowing to our potential, instead of winning,” Novice 8 captain Dylan Goodman said. “We basically had no choice but to put our faith in each other and give it everything we had. When we tried out the new lineup for the first time in Georgia, it seemed to work, so we gained a lot of confidence in that.”

The team of Goodman, Benjamin Williams, Nick Inserra, Mason Rosenau, Ian Wright, Stephen Sorbom, Matthew Kouyoumdjian, Jose Colon and coxswain Daniel McNamara got the Pirate boat out fast and stayed right with top boats in the race. “After 500 meters, we were dead even with Virginia, Michigan, UC Santa Barbara and Notre Dame,” Goodman said. “We slowly started to pull away and by the 1,000-meter mark, we were four seats up on the rest of the boats.

“Right then, we knew we could win the national championship.”

With just over 500 meters remaining, UCSB made a strong push for the lead, but the Pirates pushed back and fought off the Gauchos' sprint. "It really hurt badly," Goodman said of OCC's strong finish. “But we just kept going. Crossing the finish line was an incredible feeling and made me really proud to be a part of this team. It was our best race by far.”

Coast hit the finish line with a championship time of 5 minutes, 55.5 seconds. UCSB finished second at 5:57.4, while Virginia (5:58.5) took third.

In a rowing tradition, the winning team collects the race shirt of the losing teams. In a 15-team race, the Pirates suddenly collected LOTS of new articles of clothing for their championship efforts.

“These guys did a really great job, turning what could have been a major disruption into a galvanizing event,” Prioleau said. “They could have easily just folded up the tents and come in somewhere in the back of the pack. Instead, they showed a lot of maturity and stepped up to the challenge.”

The affects of the lineup switch made an impact on OCC’s 2nd Novice 8 boat, but the team of Garry Jenkins, Alexander Frost, Kevin Marusca, Reese Schwab, Anthony Gomez, Preston Riggs, Grant Coultrup, Andrew Cocotis and coxswain Carly San Filippo battled its way to a silver medal with a time of 6:18.2, behind only national champion Notre Dame (6:13.4) for the top spot.

"Their lineup also changed when members of their boat moved up to the 1st Novice boat, but they also did a terrific job by bringing home the silver medal," Prioleau said. "I give a huge amount of the credit to assistant coaches Steven Casey and Rick Galliand for the excellent job they did teaching these guys this year."