by Pete Janny, Asst. Editor
In only the program’s third year since inception, the fledgling Manhattan College women’s rowing team are fresh off their most promising fall campaign to date.
The fall schedule featured a number of competitive races that tested the physical and mental toughness of the Manhattan rowers. The response from the Manhattan rowers was sensational with their efforts yielding a few memorable highlights in the process. Tasked with managing a roster infused with a good balance of budding underclassmen and seasoned veterans, second year head coach Alex Canale is doing everything he can to foster a winning culture in Riverdale.
The team kicked off their season in impressive fashion at the Hadley Chase on the Connecticut River. Manhattan’s team success was highlighted by the first varsity eight boat upending arch rival Fairfield University. Placing 18th out of a strong field of 26 competitors, Manhattan’s time of 17:27 bested both the Fairfield A (17:50) and Fairfield B (17:55) in what marked the program’s first ever victory over Fairfield while racing eights.
Senior captain Rebecca Arcomano, a key cog for the first varsity eight boat, helped lead her team to achieving that goal through her adroit anchoring of the bow seat and integral leadership abilities. Arcomano, while awestruck by the colossal strides her team has taken since her arrival on campus, insists that the team always aims high.
“I think it is incredible the growth we’ve shown from my first races until now,” said Arcomano. “I think we have exceeded some people’s expectations but our goals are always high.”
Arcomano’s contributions haven’t gone unnoticed by Canale.
“Becca is our sole senior captain for the year and she’s been a real important part of some of the new things we have worked on this season,” said Canale. “She’s also been a real consistent part of our varsity eights sitting in the bow seat.”
Manhattan’s success at the Hadley Chase wasn’t merely limited to the varsity eights showing. The team’s Novice 4+ representatives also made a loud statement by winning their event with a time of 19:55, while beating out Fairfield’s 24:01 in the process. The novice boat featured no shortage of youth with three freshmen recruits and two sophomore walk-ons. The freshmen trio of Emily Hughes, Lauryn Hughes, and Elyse Holmes teamed up with sophomores Kerry Brosnan and Nadine Salameh to take home first place honors in what marked their first win as Manhattan rowers. Canale was admittedly proud of his younger rowers for their impressive achievement.
“It was big for our recruits to get that win and for the walk-ons who showed they were up to speed with our freshmen recruits,” said Canale.
By now, the veteran rowers had began to take notice of the skills of the younger rowers.
“We have a younger team this year that has definitely stepped up,” said junior Jaclyn Leighton. “Our novices have improved and really put in the work.”
One way the veterans fulfill their leadership duties is by imparting words of advice and encouragement on the novice rowers. Arcomano and Leighton are just two of the veterans that embrace this critical responsibility.
“If you yourself have a good work ethic then you are showing others how that pays off,” said Arcomano.
“I believe my leadership role includes pushing the novices to be the best they can be because sometimes they just need the motivation,” added Leighton. “Just showing a positive attitude myself relates back to them so that they know the confidence needed to excel at the sport.”
Leighton has been a mainstay in the second varsity four lineup which has morphed into a serious menace to opposing boats, including Manhattan’s first varsity four boat. Both varsity four boats emphatically showcased their prowess right from the season’s outset at the Head of Passaic on October 14th where the 1V 4+ and 2V 4+ finished third and fourth, respectively.
Canale spoke glowingly about the luxury of having two fearsome boats regularly wreak havoc when racing fours.
“Our second varsity four had a great run having earned a couple medals in their categories,” said Canale. “To have a second varsity four that’s fast enough to push our first varsity four is something that’s been a real highlight.”
The competitive fury shown while racing fours also characterized the varsity eights season. In addition to the first varsity eights monumental upset over Fairfield at the Hadley Chase, both of the varsity eight boats turned in noteworthy performances at the Head of Passaic and MAAC Championships. The 1V 8+ and 2V 8+ took the Head of the Passaic regatta by storm earning first and third place honors, respectively. Their consistent hard work also paid dividends at the highly-anticipated MAAC Championships in which the eights capped off their season in commanding fashion. With a 1V 8+ time of 6:05 and a 2V 8+ mark of 6:14, both Manhattan boats collected wins in their respective races in a MAAC Championships showing for the ages. Canale was enthralled by the improbable spectacle.
“That was huge. In my time as a spectator and coach I hadn’t seen a performance like that from Manhattan,” said Canale. “It was storybook ending to the full season.”
Junior Meredith Domaleski, a regular fixture in the second varsity eights boat, recounted the heartwarming finish to the season which she believes is a testimony to their exponential improvement as a program.
“If you told us that we were going to beat Fairfield and all these other teams at the last two races I think we would’ve said no way,” said Domaleski. “It goes to show that over the years we’ve become more motivated to get out on the water.”
When the dust finally settled, the program brought back a total of 39 gold medals to Riverdale and in the process solidified themselves as a respectable program. As Canale continues to lay down the foundation for the type of program he wants to become, the fall results gave him every reason to believe that the program is on the right path.
“I definitely think we surpassed our goals for the fall and even started to chip away at our goals for the spring,” said Canale. “I was very proud of the way everyone came back from the summer and the progress we have made thus far.”
The players seem intent on carrying over the momentum from the fall season to help fuel a successful spring campaign.
“We need to keep this momentum throughout winter training by keeping our eyes set on the MAAC Championships and really looking forward with motivation to push through the toughness of winter training,” said Arcomano.
“We hope to build off the success we had in the fall and to continue to show a strong work ethic,” added Domaleski.
With winter training almost complete and the spring season on the horizon, the women’s rowing team will attack the new year feeling as confident as ever.