The Fairfield men’s and women’s rowing teams started off strong this season with excellent performances this past Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Head of the Housatonic competition in Shelton, Conn. The men’s team started the races off with a first-place finish in the novice eight and then later had boats place third and fourth in the open four. The women’s team also got off to a good start in both the varsity eight and the open four, in which the Stags had two boats placed in each event. 

The first event that Fairfield participated in at the competition was the men’s novice eight, in which the stags triumphed over tough opponents Yale University and United States Military Academy. The Stags posted a great time of 15:22.7, which was just slightly above the runner-up Yale’s time of 16:22.9. 

The highlight of the day for the women’s team came when the Stags B boat had an 11th-place finish in the open four. The boat posted a time of 20:45.6 and was represented by Cassie Reilly ‘23, Adalia Flores ‘23, Olovoa Burghardt ‘26, Caroline McAndrew ‘23 and coxswain Marianna Kalin ‘25. The A boat also raced in the event and posted a time of 21:12.9, which had them finish fourteenth.

The men’s team finished off extremely strong, with the final event for them on the day being the open four. Both boats finished within the top five, with the A boat coming in third and the B boat in fourth, both excellent finishes. The A boat, which was crewed by Brady Stergion ‘23, Michael Hamilton ‘24, Michael Greene ‘23, Gerry Malloy ‘24 and coxswain Thomas Flynn ‘24 posted a time of 16:31.8, which was closely followed by the B boat crew of graduate student Ryan Borsy, Frankie Dinatale ‘25, graduate student Jake Godwin, Ryan Wrynn ‘25 and coxswain Matt Tarabocchia ‘24 who posted a time of 16:35.0. 

The teams have both been working hard this year to prepare for the Fall competitions. The athletes have been eager to start their fall campaign and get the season underway at the Head of the Housatonic. 

Flynn, who was part of the A boat crew that finished third in the men’s open four, is excited to be getting back on the water. 

“I am absolutely stoked to be getting the season underway,” he says. “It’s great to be back at school practicing and competing with all of the guys. It’s just a great environment to be a part of and I’m excited to get after it this Fall.” 

He says the team has been working hard to prepare for the races this Fall and is optimistic that their hard work will pay off. 

“So far, as a team, we have been practicing six days a week on the water. Practice runs from 6-8am on the Norwalk River. During this time we practice drills, do various workout pieces, and try to get better each and every day. Since our team is significantly bigger this year compared to last year – with nearly a dozen new first-year rowers – we all expect to see promising results during the Fall. As a team, we are all very excited to see our team approach almost 40 crew members and believe in our ability to achieve great things this upcoming year.” 

The team is looking promising with their performance at the Head of the Housatonic. The women’s team has also spent the first couple weeks of the school year preparing for the Fall competitions. 

Megan Rourke ‘24, who took part in the women’s open four this past weekend, thinks the women’s team has a good chance to be competitive this year. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the Fall season because the team is looking very deep this year,” Rourke explains. “Depth means we’ll all be able to push each other that much more on the water. My teammates have been working hard in the gym and in the erg [rowing machine] room and we’re hoping this Fall season will prepare us to do great things for the Spring!” 

She’s also looking forward to a competitive conference season in which she thinks the women’s team will do well. “I’m really looking forward to seeing even more progress in the team than last season, and I can already see the improvement,” Rourke explains. “Even though Spring is technically our main season, Fall is where we really need to make a statement. Last season, FUWR [Fairfield University Women’s Rowing] was the fastest it’s ever been in Fairfield history, and we plan to make that the case again this year. Fall is just the beginning. This year, we’re all prepared to do what it takes to win the MAAC [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference]!” 

Last year the women’s team came in third at the MAAC rowing championship and will look to repeat their success this Spring.

The competition this past weekend was the first of four that the Stags will compete in this Fall, with their next event taking place on Oct. 22 at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass. They will look to carry over their success into this prestigious competition and will spend the next few weeks working hard as a team to prepare for it.

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