Rowing before 1965
Rowing first began at WPI in 1944. Jim Donahue and others…[this needs to be filled out]
The Club is Restarted
The current WPI Rowing Team was started by James Raslavsky ‘68 and Richard V. Olson, mathematics instructor, in 1965. The boats were borrowed from Shrewsbury High School, which had an established program, and Kenneth F. Burns, the coach from Shrewsbury High, also served as the WPI coach.
The crew quickly grew from a single eight oared crew to a men’s Varsity, Junior Varsity and Freshman crew in 1968 and competed successfully against much larger institutions and rowing programs. Over the years, the WPI Crew has had remarkable success at all levels of competition.
Women’s Crew is Started
5 years after women were first admitted to WPI a women’s crew was started by Nancy Woods Popinchalk, ‘75, and Sue Dawson, ‘75, in 1973. The women’s crew was one of the first sports clubs on campus for women.
The women’s crew has won numerous Worcester City Championships, several New England Championships and has competed at the United States National Rowing Championships. With the limited number of women on campus in the early years, their successes are particularly impressive. Some of their more notable accomplishments are:
* Medals from the Dad Vail Regatta 1980, 1981. The Dad Vail Regatta was the small college national championships.
* Third Place at the United States National Championships, Oak Ridge Tennessee, 1984.
The Club Goes Varsity
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The men’s crew has won numerous Worcester City Championships, Several New England Championships and has had successes beyond the New England Collegiate level. For instance:
The 1968 crew is the only small college crew ever invited to row in the Varsity Race at the Eastern Sprints. The Sprints is the collegiate championships for the Division I Level Crews.
National Small College Championship in 1976 and medals at the Dad Vail Regatta, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1988.
Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, open to all collegiate crews in the United States. Silver Medals, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982. Bronze Medals, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982.
National and International Competition
- United States National Champion, Four with Cox, 1978. This is the championships open to any crew in the United States.
- Sixth, United States National Championships, Lightweight Four, 1978.
- Bronze Medalist, United States National Championships, Lightweight Four, 1979, 1980.
- Fourth, United States National Championships, Lightweight Four with Cox, 1979.
- Second Place, 1979 United States Rowing Team Trials, Lightweight Four. The crew was one foot behind the winner.
- Competed in the 1981, 1982 and 1985 Henley Royal Regatta, Henley England. The 1982 four with cox
Alumni Continue Competing
Several individuals have successfully competed beyond the college level.
- John Matthews, ‘74, was a member of the 1975 United States National Rowing Team, 1976 Olympic Rowing Team, and has won numerous United States National Championships.
- James Feenan, ‘81 has been a member of the United States National Rowing Team in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. He finished second in the Olympic Trials in 1996 and has won numerous United States National Championships.
- John West, ‘88, was a member of the Olympic Sports Festival Rowing Team and won a bronze medal in 1988.
- John Tracy, ‘80, won United States National Championships in 1980 and 1981 with the New York Athletic Club.
- John Marden, ‘83, has coached the Swiss national team from 199? to 199?.
- Bob Sengstaken has competed in every Head of the Charles since he graduated.
These are outstanding accomplishments for a small college club crew.