It was the first time in three years that the event unfolded before a raucous, screaming audience, thanks to a letup in the pandemic.
The big prize on the Schuykill River — the Varsity 8+ — went to junior Sam DeSilva as coxswain, sophomore Josh Diggons as stroke, junior Roman Smigiel as bow, and teammates graduate student Matt Reilly, senior Dimitrije Ibrocic, junior Damian Lis, sophomore Michael Pazderski, freshman Andrew Manns and senior John Karen. With a time of 5:30.611, the team defeated second-place Colgate University by more than two seconds in Lois Krall III. Their effort marked the third time the men’s rowing team won the heavyweight race at Dad Vail, where Dragons had previously brought home the big trophy in 2013 and 2017.
Not to be outdone, Dragons competing in the 2V8+ rowed Lois Krall II to victory, led by senior Billy Ernst as coxswain, sophomore John Little as stroke, sophomore Kosta Petkovic as bow, and teammates graduate student C.J. Rooney, sophomore James Schmidt, senior Herbert De Cokere, freshman Nemanja Sajatovic, junior Sam Valigorsky and senior Jake Miller. The team out-rowed the defending champions, George Washington University, by 12 seconds.
In the 3V8+, junior Alex Dragovits as coxswain, sophomore Lake Watson as stroke, graduate student Chris Cail as bow, and teammates junior Nikola Loncar, junior Richmond Coney, sophomore Nick Perks, junior Sean Blair, sophomore Daniel Yurcisin and sophomore Jack Anderson crossed the finish line in the Sandra Lee Sheller II nearly three seconds ahead of Temple University.
The Novice 4+ added to the Dragons’ luster, when the all-freshman squad of Emma Houghton as coxswain, Maxwell Frey as stroke and Carter Hubbard as bow joined teammates Sean Williams and Zach Key to earn a silver medal.
In the first day of competition, the women’s rowing Novice 8+ team won its heat with more than 13 seconds to spare before going on the next day to earn a gold medal over West Point. Belen Rosales as coxswain and Baylor Henry as stroke led fellow freshman teammates Emily Gresham, Margaret Dobrenko, Maya Jacobsen, Delaney Gellert, Emily Ellis, Ellen McCallin and Bella Lee in the Maria Papadakis. Overall, the Dragons accumulated 139.75 points in the regatta, giving rival institutions more reason than ever to respect Drexel’s water Dragons.
Dragons were crowned champions in the 83rd Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate boating race in North America, on May 14, 2022.