Mingling with friends on the second floor of the Bachelors Barge Club on Saturday afternoon, Drexel coach Paul Savell thought race day was over.
What he didn't know was that the overall points trophy for the Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta was waiting for his team a mile downriver at the awards tent.
"Wait, we won the points trophy?" Savell asked.
Just like that, a good day for Drexel rowing turned into a great day. The Dragons were the first college to cross the finish line in the men's open heavyweight eight championship and collected three of the team's 12 overall points. The boat finished third in the race behind club teams from Pennsylvania Athletic Club (Penn AC) and New York Athletic Club, but it was more than good enough.
The stellar performance propelled Drexel to the men's college points trophy, as well as the overall college points title. The Drexel women's team captured bronze in the college freshmen/novice eights and the women's open club eights.
"This really speaks well for the spring season," Savell said. "A lot carries over. This is a longer distance [2.5 miles] compared to the 2,000-meter course in the spring, so there's some variability, but the fast teams in the fall are usually the fast teams in the spring."
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Head of the Schuylkill began a two-day event featuring more than 5,000 rowers from 1,100 crews. The regatta is a head race in which boats embark on the course two by two and compete against the clock, not each other.
The Drexel men's heavyweight eight was powered by sophomore stroke seat Kurt Lindon, a St. Augustine Prep graduate from Linwood, N.J. The boat finished behind first-place Penn AC by a little more than 32 seconds.
Finishing second to Drexel in the men's points standings, Penn also stood out among local teams. The Quakers won gold medals in both the men's college freshmen/novice four and the women's college freshmen/novice eight.
Villanova won gold in the women's college freshmen/novice four, while La Salle finished third. St. Joseph's took silver in the men's open club eights.
Vesper Boat Club bested Rutgers and Fordham to win gold in the women's open heavyweight eight championship. Holy Cross and Trinity tied for the women's points trophy with five points apiece. Hamilton was the runner-up to Drexel for the overall points trophy.
Today's racing begins at 8 a.m. with a schedule of high school championships and all remaining open and masters races. The high school varsity eight championships are slated for 1:20 p.m.