Successful Knecht Cup showing for ‘Nova

Carolyn Brown

The Villanova rowing team was anything but intimidated by some of the top rowing teams in the nation competing at the Knecht Cup in Cherry Hill, N.J., a regatta that attracts the top schools around the country. Villanova had many amazing performances and finished second in two races. The varsity four boat of seniors Meg Walsh, Elysse Voyer, Christina Baumgardner, Nancy Olewnik and freshman coxswain Kathryn Neugold beat 17 teams, only falling close behind Penn State in the Grand Final with a time of 8:12.0.

The highly competitive varsity pairs race would result in another second place finish by the Wildcats. Junior Kathleen O’Connell and senior Taylor Malloy fell in a close race to UMass with a time of 8:48.8, beating six other teams.

The close performances were yet to end with the varsity eight boat race. The varsity eight team beat out 23 other boats, including four Big East teams, and they placed third in the Grand Final with a time of 7:18.7. The second varsity eight boat also had a strong performance, placing fifth in the Grand Final with a time of 7:51.1.

“We have been having a rough start,” said Katie Barzelatto, a sophomore who placed fifth in the eight boat race. “But in the Knecht Cup our boat really seemed to come together. Our power and talent really showed in that race. We were working as one; we were all focused and ready to win that day.”

Another big race of the weekend included the lightweight four squad. The team rowed one of their best races ever, qualifying for the finals with a time of 8:41.1. However, due to an injury, junior Joanna Weber was unable to compete in the final race. Freshman Jennifer Niemczyk stepped up to take her place and helped her team achieve a sixth place finish with a time of 9:09.8.

The Wildcat’s next regatta was a dual meet against the UConn Huskies. It was a rough day on the water, with the Wildcats unable to pull out any of the races.

“The UConn race this weekend was a tough one especially since both JV and varsity had beaten them in the Knecht Cup the weekend before,” Barzelatto said. “The race was an experience for us to realize our weaknesses and work to improve them for the Big East Championship coming up.”