It was recently announced that the Mercyhurst Rowing team is going through the starting phases of an expansion. The expansion comes after a generous donor gave the team the funds to start a men’s heavyweight team. The move is unique, considering many rowing teams across the United States are having trouble receiving funding. As a result, teams have had to cut back on their programs.
Currently, Mercyhurst Rowing consists of a women’s heavyweight and men’s lightweight team. The new addition is to the men’s side only. Currently, lightweight team members must race in the spring at 155 pounds, while the new heavyweight team will not have any weight cap.
Mercyhurst switched to a lightweight-only team only a few years ago to stay more competitive. Jon Rost, a previous coach at Colgate University, was hired to lead this new team. Rost had been at Colgate for this past spring season working with the freshman at the university. He led them to a first-place finish at the Dad Vails meet in Philadelphia. Dad Vails is the final meet of the rowing season.
Rost, who has been rowing since the seventh grade, is excited to build up Mercyhurst’s newest addition. “Right now we are in the recruiting phase,” Rost said when asked about the team’s status in the first few weeks of its starting season. The heavyweight team may have been announced, but there is still a good deal of time before the team will be in full form.
To give some perspective, there are currently 26 men on the lightweight rowing team and 22 women on the women’s. Players will need to be recruited to support the new venture. However, Rost is confident in the outlook for the team in the coming years. “Sometime within three years, I would like to be in the finals at Dad Vails,” said Rost. Lightweight rowing’s first meet is Oct. 7 in Findley Lake, New York, for the Mercyhurst Autumn Classic. This will also be the first meet of the 2017-18 season for the women’s rowing team.
When the men’s heavyweight team becomes a full part of the program, it will join the other two teams in competing in the nine meets of the rowing season.