SARASOTA, Fla. (April 18, 2012) - The Rollins men's crew posted their best performances of the season finishing in the top-five in all events entered at the 2012 FIRA Championships held at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.
The first event of the day for the Tars was the men's novice 4 "B" (David Cottrell, Patrick Smith, Zachary Urow, Ethan White, Tristan Wakely) where Rollins picked up their first gold medal, beating second-place Florida State by a 10 second margin. The next event for the men was the pair event where Rollins qualified all three crews for the finals on Saturday.
Saturday's events were kicked off with the men's varsity 8 (Eric Pagan, Nick Pittari, Kip Zimmerman, Ryan Webb, Ali Hakim, Brian Burch, David Rice, Mitch Verboncoeur, Tim Mazzaotta) as they placed second, just 3.3 second behind first-place Jacksonville. The race was the best finish in that particular race in a long time and was the closest Rollins has been to JU in quite a few years.
The stage was set for the entire day as each team stepped up to the plate in the remaining events on the slate. Taking first place finishes were the men's novice lightweight 4 (Rachel Reams, Patrick Smith, Ben Smith, Ethan White, David Cottrell) and the men's pair (Ali Hakim, Mitch Verboncoeur). The pair also recorded a second (Nick Pittari, Tim Mazzotta) and fourth place (Brian Burch, Kip Zimmerman) finish overall. Rounding out the results were the men's junior varsity 4 (Rachel Reams, John Frelinghuysen, Ben Van der Werf, Zachary Urow, Christian Pichert) with a second place finish and the varsity 4 (Eric Pagan, Nick Pittari, Ali Hakim, Mitch Verboncoeur, David Rice) with a fourth place finish.
Of all the races of the day, the most exciting race of the day came down to the men's novice 4. Jacksonville has posted the fastest time in both heats combined the previous day but were dealt a misfortune and dropped out of the final after 10 strokes. With the race up for grabs, UCF took the early lead with Rollins not far behind. As the teams crossed the 1,500m mark, UCF was one length up on the Tars. In the final 20 strokes, Rollins closed the gap and put their bow ahead of the Fighting Knights by 2.2 seconds at the final horn.
"What an incredible comeback!" said Assistant Coach Brandon Thompson. "This is just what these guys needed as we head into SIRA in the novice 8."
At this week's upcoming race at SIRA, the men will compete in the varsity and novice 8. The Tars look to leave their mark and make their presence known amongst the schools in the south with their new-found speed.