2007 Bronco Men's Crew Blog

Santa Clara men's crew is aiming for a great 2007 campaign. Junior rower Dave Merselis will be there every step of the way, providing Bronco fans with insight into the season. From early morning workouts in the Leavey Center to regattas across the country, Merselis will be the eyes and ears of the Bronco men's crew team.

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Posted: May 11, 2007
One Last Early Morning by Stephen Smoker

Before we get started I just want to let all of the David Merselis fans in the house know that they can stop reading here. Yes, it's true he took this week off due to his Philadelphia trip to which the men's team sent the V8+ and the N4+. They are off to the Dad Vail regatta, which is the largest collegiate regatta in the United States. Our crew will be among over 100 other crews from all over the United States and Canada. This will be the 69th running of the Dad Vail Regatta, and we a proud to be a part of the great history and tradition that is this regatta.

As for the rest of the team that stayed behind we are all just enjoying life without crew. We now enjoy sleeping in every morning and working out on our own watch. However, the end of the season is very bittersweet. I have noticed now that I do not see most of the guys as often as I would like, and it is especially weird to go to breakfast all by myself. I hate walking into Benson in the morning without seeing at least five of the guys sitting at rectangular table and joking about anything and everything.

The last couple crew events that I am looking forward to are the end of the year team bbq where we will take a team picture and swap stories of our favorite crew memories. And next Wednesday's Athlete's Ball. This was a lot of fun last year to hang out with the team and the rest of the student-athletes at the school.

Well hopefully you enjoyed this week's crew blog according to Stephen Smoker and I will leave you with this quotation from USRowing.com, "Physiologists claim that rowing a 2,000-meter race - equivalent to 1.25 miles - is equal to playing back-to-back basketball games."

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Posted: May 4, 2007
Home Stretch!

The 2007 WIRAs were once again an exciting and action packed event. Success was seen on both the men's and women's teams as numerous boats placed well in their preliminary heats and went on to make their mark in the finals. Saturday started off bright and early with our novice 4 destroying their heat in a time of 7:01 and making the grand finals. Soon after our V8 cruised down the course in an improved time of 6:18 and made it to the petite finals. The rest of the day seems to be a blur as races were coming down the course every minute and it was quite hard to keep track of the results. By the time the day had drawn to a close, some of us had rowed in three separate races and were DEAD tired.

Sunday was then a big day. Amongst our achievements the novice four and the varsity pair placed 4th in their respective grand finals. The V8 placed just behind OCC (Orange Coast College) in the petites, which was a major improvement from last year. Also, on the women's side of things, the V8 and JV8 destroyed their WCC competition. Especially the Saint May's squad that had been giving them trouble all year in previous races. Congrats ladies!!

Outside of rowing, this past weekend was awesome! Every night we had amazing meals provided to us by the Marweg's, Reeve's, Shoven's, and Shumsky's. Saturday night was extra special as our entire team gathered at Joshua Shumsky's house for an amazing BBQ. After playing a couple rather competitive rounds of Bump (a basketball game) the evening was topped off when one of the family guests came out and started doing magic tricks. All of us were `wowed' by his talent, and I was especially captivated. I even went as far as to creep up behind him to peer over his shoulder and steal his tricks. However, he became wise to what I was trying to do and `kindly' asked me to step back. Tee hee hee!

Before I go any further with this blog, I'd like to send out a huge thank you to all of the families who have helped and supported us this entire year on behalf of our team. To the Marweg and Shumsky families, thanks for housing and feeding us during our multiple trips to Sacramento. To the Fette family, thank you for all of the food and goodies that you provided our teams with during the regattas. Last, but definitely not least, thank you to anyone and everyone who has showed up to our races and cheered us on this year!! We definitely appreciate it!

As for funny moments this past weekend, freshman Ryan Amante brought a DVD player with the movie Top Gun to the race course Sunday. In the midst of rigging and preparing for our races, we would all be quoting the lines from the movie along with the actors as they said them. This was then taken up a notch when the bar scene in the movie came up. When this occurred, we all stopped what we were doing and began role playing the scene as if it was happening right there by our boats! While most people at the regatta were quietly awaiting the next race to come down the course, there we were over on the side, surrounded by random teams, belting out the Righteous Brothers song that was made famous by that movie. Now...to most this would have been a rather awkward moment, especially with lots of random girls watching. However, after a year full of embarrassing moments and lots of sing-a-longs, this was just another ordinary day for our team! :-)

Anyway, that's about it for now. Currently our men's and women's varsity eights are preparing to head to Philadelphia next week for the Dad Vail regatta. I will make sure to update you on our status early next week before we head out.

Until then, have a great week and weekend everyone!! Take care!

Dave

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Posted: April 11, 2007
WIRA's Time!! (Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association)

Hey all!

First of all, I tooooootally forgot to say a "thank you" to all of those who came out to support us last weekend at Lexington!! It was great to see all of our friends, family, and alumni out there to support us. We all wished we could've spent more time hanging out and mingling with the crowd. However, as you may know already, we were a little pressed for time since we had to get up to Stanford for our race at noon. Still though, I would like to reiterate how much our team appreciated your support. A special thank you goes out to the parents who set up the food tents and barbequed for us after our races! That was awesome!! Also, we would like to thank the teams that showed up to support us. Most notably these were the women's water polo team and the club volleyball team! We realize that you all sacrificed a sleep in day to come watch us race, and that definitely means a lot to us. Thanks again!

Anyhoos...this week is a `biggy' for us as it's the annual WIRA competition up in Sacramento. For the past two weeks we have been doing nothing but seat racing and preparing for this regatta. Last week we spent most of our time in fours in an attempt to get the fastest possible lineup of rowers together. By the time this week rolled around we had a new lineup and a new perspective on our race strategy. Now Jimmy Shoven is back in stroke seat and I'm sitting in stroke pair with him at the 7 seat. Behind us sits Brendon Bula, Mark Elfving, Steve Kwei, and Steve Shanley in the "engine room" portion of our eight. Then we have Joshua Shumsky and Erik Moles sitting in bow pair.

With this new lineup in place and a couple of practices under our belt, we have high expectations for our upcoming races this weekend! Also, we as a boat feel that we made some great improvements in our race plan during the Lexington regatta. Hopefully, all of these newly found aspects of our race will carry forward and bring us some success this weekend!

As for what's happenin' in my life, two days ago I got `the eye of pink'! (Better known as Pink Eye, but I like to be clever like that sometimes.) Anyway, I didn't know what it was at first when I woke up in my apartment and started crashing into things while I was trying to pry open my eyes. By the time I finally got them open I found that I looked just like Rocky after he had been worked over in the ring (only there was no way I was gonna take a blade to my eye to lessen the swelling like he did...that's the next time I get pink eye I guess.) Even though my eyes have been hurting throughout the day, having pink eye has brought me a lot of entertainment. First off, I have discovered that I give off the `married with kids' vibe to strangers as that's what all of the nurses kept asking me about while I was in the hospital. Secondly, people keep asking me whether or not I've seen the movie 28 Days Later. According to them I look just like one of the zombies in that movie...Thanks FRIENDS! (Hmm...that would explain why a few kids ran away from me in the hospital though, as well as why I had a comfortable cushion of open seats next to me when everyone else was packed into the waiting room area.)

Finally, this weekend I'm looking forward to going head to head with my best friend from home in the first heat of the varsity 4 race. He goes to Western Washington University and I always see him once a year at the WIRA regatta. Unfortunately though, over these past two years his boats have seen more success than ours. However, I believe this year we will duke it out the entire way as we now have a new lineup for our 4.

Hmm...I guess that's about it for now. Wish us luck this weekend!! I will let you know how we do first thing next week in my blog, so stay tuned!!!

Until then, take care and have a wonderful week/weekend!!

Dave

P.S.: Our men's rowing team is trying to find a way to update our current contact list for alumni. This past year during the time that we did our fundraising we noticed how a lot of our alumni's addresses or phone numbers are out of date. If possible, we would greatly appreciate it if you could send us your current address and phone number so that we can update our contact list. Amongst the things we are looking to send out to you in the future would be new editions of The Rusty Oarlock as well as any other fliers or pieces of literature about our upcoming crew events. For convenience, just go ahead and email me at dmerselis@scu.edu and feel free to add any suggestions that you might have for my blogs while you are at it! Thanks!

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Posted: April 11, 2007
Underdogs!!

Entering into competition this past weekend we knew we had our work cut out for us. UC Davis, Sonoma, and Cal Lights were all teams that we had seen earlier in the season up in Sacramento. In fact, we had already gone against both Sonoma and Cal Lights on several different occasions at various regattas, but we had yet to come away with a single victory in the 8 event. Thus it would be fair to say that we a rather big chip on our shoulder that we were looking to offload in a hurry at the Lexington Cup Saturday morning. Right from the start of the race we showed the other crews that our rigging was not the only thing that had changed in our boat over the past couple of weeks as we tore out in front of everyone. Following the stroke of Mark Elfving our boat fought neck and neck with UC Davis for the first 500meters of the race and led both Sonoma and Cal Lights by a fair margin. Crossing the 650meter mark our 8 made a strong move and called for a power ten to apply more pressure on Davis and to move further away from the other two crews. Immediately we lurched forward and halted the move that UC Davis had tried to put on our boat. After coming back down from our power ten we crossed the 1000 and realized that Sonoma was picking up their pressure with a counterattack. By the time we reached 500meters to go in the race Sonoma had walked their way back up to our boat and were pushing out a slight lead over our bow. Crossing the finish line we were in 3rd place with contact on Sonoma. However, despite how these results look on paper, this race definitely showed some progress!!

Quickly de-rigging our boat following the race, our Varsity 8 headed up to the Windermere Crew Classic to face Stanford in the pouring rain. "Race for the bridge" was our plan entering into this second race of the day as we thought Stanford might get flustered if we could hold them off for 1000 meters. Unfortunately, even though we had another strong start to our race, our boat just couldn't match the intensity of the Stanford boat and we immediately found ourselves a boat length down. By the time we crossed under the bridge and entered the last 1000 meters we knew the race was out of hand and our focus shifted towards fighting against the strong wind conditions that we were experiencing for a decent finishing time. Returning for round two of the Crew Classic the next day, our boat headed out to face UC Davis's Varsity `A' boat. Again our plan was to race for the bridge in hopes that we could fluster the other crew and pull out a win. This time we were able to put up a rather strong fight against the crew as we maintained contact with their boat through the 1000 meter mark and beyond the bridge. Unfortunately, with about 500 meters to go in the race our boat experienced a few bobbles with the set of our boat. These bobbles allowed UC Davis to slip even further away and increase their victory by almost 20 seconds.

Despite these losses, we were still quite pleased with our overall performances both at Lexington and at Windermere. After all, most teams with our size and experience would have been rather intimidated by these other crews such as Stanford and UC Davis as the average size of their rowers was 6'6" and 210+lbs!! Also, and something I didn't quite take note of until after the race, but all of the rowers on these teams are strongly recruited (even from other countries!) I finally came to this realization after I asked the 5 seat rower for Stanford his name and how he was doing, and the only reply I got while being given a confused look was "Guhood vrace." So even though we lost, I came away from this weekend rather proud of our crew and how we never backed down from the "impossible." Looking back on it, I can't help but to think of the saying "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters." It is only a matter of time until we force other crews to acknowledge this.

Hmmm... Recently I have not had much time to do anything besides race and practice for crew. So far it appears that class-wise this quarter will be another `doozy' for me, yet I'm maintaining some hope that I might be wrong with this initial impression. Outside of both crew and the classroom, I'm loooooooving the weather here in California!!! Being from the Seattle area, I love it when I call home to chat with my family and I hear about how miserable it is up there!! Hearing that always brightens up my day! Hahaha 

Alright, well I guess I will end this blog here since I don't have much more to say. Until next time, have a great week everyone!!! Take care!

Dave

P.S. Thanks for reading these blogs b.t.w.! I love hearing about how you guys read these, and I especially like hearing your feedback!

P.P.S. Stay tuned for an in depth article about S.C. crew and the motivation that drives its rowers in the upcoming Santa Clara Broncos Sports Magazine (Spring Edition.)

P³. S. Thanks to Jimmy Shoven's family for the awesome BBQ following our races Saturday!

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Posted: April 11, 2007
Half-Way Through the Season!

Unfortunately nothing too newsy has happened lately...Since we had a break in our racing schedule this past weekend, a lot of us headed home to be with our families for Easter. Aside from the fun that came along with crashing little kids Easter egg hunts (haha just kidding, I'd never do that...or would I?!?) we all really enjoyed this time away from crew as it allowed us to catch up on some much needed rest. After all, it had been almost two full weeks since we had a day off from crew and crew related activities.

As Monday rolled around practice started up again and we had our first double-water day of the year. In spite of the hard work that we did during these two practices, the day was quite enjoyable as I'd consider the weather here in Santa Clara to be very "summer-like." Most of the time in these practices was spent on perfecting our racing lineups and strategies for this upcoming weekend. One major change that we have made with our lineup was that we re-rigged our boat so that it would be starboard stroked! (I have to admit that it felt a little "odd" the first time we rowed in it, but we are all definitely looking forward to seeing how it works out for us in the races.)

Speaking of the upcoming races...This weekend is our major home regatta, the Lexington Cup. We will be racing against UC Davis, Cal Lightweights and Sonoma in both the 8 and the 4 events. The first race, which is the men's varsity 8, starts at 8am and I believe the races go until 11am. (Now I know this is reaaaaallly early for some of you folks out there, but heck you should still come and watch!! It will be fun!!) Once these races are over, our varsity team will immediately load our boats onto the trailer and head up to Redwood Shores where we will be squaring off against Stanford at 2pm!!! (Again I think you all should make it out to this race as well!! But if for some reason you can't... you can tune in to jamco.com and watch it live on the internet!) Following our hectic day of racing Saturday, we will then return to Redwood Shores on Sunday to race UCD around 11am. (I hate to beat a dead horse here, but you should make it out to this race as well!!!)

Ok that's really all that is new with us this past week. Outside of crew I'm getting use to my new class schedule for the spring quarter. I'm kind of upset though because the one class I really wanted to take (Mechatronics and yeah, I know I'm a nerd but whatever) was cancelled!! So I guess I will have to put up with an extra math class...oh well.

Until next time, have a great week and take care!!
Dave

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Posted: April 6, 2007
Fun In the Sun
Hello again!

As you may know, this past week was our "Spring Break." Yet while most college students were going wild on their vacations, we were practicing day in and day out in preparation for our upcoming races. Our mornings would begin around 6am when we would travel to Lexington for our first water practice of the day. After a couple of hours of intense training we would head back to campus for a quick bite to eat before returning to the reservoir for our second water practice. Following this practice, which was usually focused on technique, we would often find ourselves lifting in the weight room while blasting our favorite tunes on the stereo (most commonly this was Justin Timberlake a.k.a. J-Tizzil.) Even though most of this time in the weight room was spent on "crew exercises," I would be lying if I said we weren't making sure our beach muscles were in tip-top shape for our upcoming trip to San Diego.

Men's Crew lounges about during the San Diego Crew Classic last weekend


When Thursday rolled around we were finally ready for the weekend so we all saddled up and headed towards sunny San Diego. These trips in the vans, both to and from San Diego, were approximately 10 hours in length. However, that period of time flew past as we continued our road trip rituals and sang at the top of our lungs to all of the songs we knew on the radio. Once in San Diego, we spent Thursday afternoon and all day Friday practicing on the race course. While out on the water we noticed that jelly fish were swimming (or I guess more floating than swimming) around underneath us near the area where we were putting our boats into the water. As a result, following these practices we would often engage in jelly fish wars as we would pluck them from the water and throw them at other rowers in our boat. At first I was rather hesitant to take part in these games, but then I was informed that these were the "non stinging jelly fish types," so I became an avid player of this competition.

Bright and early Saturday morning we found ourselves sitting on the starting line in the first race of the day. Conditions were ideal compared to past years as the waters were calm and there was only a slight breeze on the course. However, despite these conditions, we had a rather slow start out of the blocks and immediately found ourselves down to all of the crews in the race. Once we were able to finally establish the rhythm we wanted there was already a fair margin of distance between our boat and the team in first place. We ended up in seventh place with a time of 6:26. Despite the results of this race, we still remain extremely optimistic about the upcoming races in our season. It seems that each race so far has shown us what we need to work on, and it is only a matter of time before we get all of our kinks worked out. When that happens we will definitely make our mark on whatever race we are in. With that said, our next race is two weeks away! In fact, this happens to be a weekend full of races at nearby courses. Saturday will start bright and early at our home course at Lexington Reservoir when we take part in the Lexington Cup. Later that same day we will take our boats up to Redwood City and race in the first day of the Windermere Cup.

Following this busy day, we will then return to Redwood City Sunday morning to complete our final races of the Windermere Cup (one against Stanford!!). Now.... I know that you all have been dying to get an opportunity to watch us race.... So now is the time!!! With multiple races each day, and each course being within 20minutes driving distance from our school, there is nooooooooooo excuse for not coming to see us race! Be there!

So I guess that is all for now! I hope you all are having a great week! Have a great Easter weekend and I will talk to you soon. Take care!

-Dave

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Posted: March 29, 2007
Santa Clara Crew Gone Wild!! (Spring Break Edition)

Ok... so as rowers we don't really get a spring break, but we do know how to live it up and make the best of our situation!! Starting last Thursday night a group of us went up to the boathouse and prepped our brand new Concept 2 oars for painting while sitting in the dark. Early the next morning we then returned to continue this task. As we waited for the different layers of paint to dry throughout the day we found creative ways to pass the time. Amongst these creations was a rather competitive version of baseball we like to refer to as "stickball" since it literally involved a gi-normous stick that had fallen from a nearby tree and a random ball. Rowers Tim Huss, Corey McGuire and James McGrath took this game to a new level of seriousness as they started throwing overhand pitches, wearing hardhats as batting helmets, and arguing fair and foul balls as rowers from the Los Gatos Rowing Club were calmly trying to take out their boats.

Meanwhile, I found this day to be an opportune time to catch some rays!! However, since I consider it to be very faux pas for a man to use sun screen, I neglected to do so as I spent hour upon hour out in the sunlight. It wasn't until later that night when I was back in my apartment when I could finally see my new solid orange/red skin tone. The first thought that crossed my mind was that I was looking directly in the mirror at a 6 foot 3 inch, 180 pound oompa loompa (of course minus the green hair, overalls, and motivation to spontaneously break into improved jingles about random people.) Either way, let's just say that I'm thankful I was able to make it through the past couple of days.

Later that night our shenanigans continued as some of us went to play mini golf just a few hours prior to our first hard practice of break! But what is a game of mini-golf without an important wager placed upon the outcome?!?! Therefore we determined that the losing team (based on overall strokes of the match) would have to do some embarrassing acts while down in San Diego this upcoming weekend. Unfortunately, I sorely underestimated my opponents (one of whom had played the course multiple times before) and my partner Brad Marweg and I got destroyed!! Of course this came after 18 holes of golf, 3 lost balls (on a putt putt course mind you), a couple of fences hopped, a few full swings, and several awkward conversations with management about why our golf balls were bouncing violently around the course instead of rolling nicely down the greens. Tee hee hee!!!

With such random acts aside, our spring break has been rather challenging. With multiple water practices each day we are finally getting the opportunity to fine-tune our strokes in preparation for our upcoming races. Also, since we have more free time without having to worry about classes, we have had more opportunities to do some workouts back on campus to rebuild and maintain the strength that we have going into the main portion of our season. Outside of workouts, the evenings provide us with ample time to hang out and bond with our entire team. Each night we have a team dinner at one of our houses near campus. On that note I would like to give a shout out and thanks to those who have done most of the preparation and cooking for our team this week. Those individuals include Stephen Kwei, Stephen Smoker, Stephen Shanley (aka The Steve's) and Brendon Bula. Thanks guys!!

Anyways I guess that is about it for now. I should head to bed as we have yet another 5 a.m. practice tomorrow morning!! Until next time, have a great week everyone!!

Take care!!! Dave

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Posted: March 21, 2007
A Busy Week

"This boathouse isn't big enough for the three of us!" - (Read as if said by Marvin the Martin)

Hello once again everyone!

As mentioned in last week's blog, USC recently came up to Lexington for five days to do their spring break training. Even though I knew they were coming to visit, it was still a shock for me when they showed up early Monday morning and came strolling down the hill towards the dock with their boats. From that moment on it seemed every piece we did had a new level of intensity and focus in our boat. Simple drills, such as when we row with our outside arm only during our warm-up lap, took on heightened levels of concentration and a strong determination to get each stroke as sharp and efficient as possible. Wednesday and Friday were the most exciting mornings of the week as we got to go head-to-head with the five USC 8 boats in some sprint pieces. Having this opportunity to go against such a high caliber team like that of USC only benefited us as it forced us to drastically raise the level of our "game" in order to be competitive with them during the pieces.

Also, in between these sprints against USC we were able to test out new lineups for our boat. Whereas we have to wait a few days following our races to actually make changes in our lineup, these practices enabled us to immediately make changes and adjustments to our boat on the spot. One of the adjustments we made was pushing Jimmy Shoven up to stroke seat. Although he had never stroked our 8 before, his "all or nothing" mentality towards racing gave us the edge in some of our final pieces against USC. Therefore we learned a lot about ourselves and our boats as a result of these pieces. However, by the time Friday's practice came to an end and USC began to pack up to leave, we as a team were ready to have our boathouse back to ourselves (well I guess not completely to ourselves as we share it with the Los Gatos Rowing Club.) Now we are all looking forward to this upcoming Saturday when our final examinations are over and our spring break regimen begins!!

As for the "Dear David's Diary" section of this blog, my mechanical engineering project/competition is now over!! Since the last time I wrote about it, our project underwent another complete overhaul and didn't see completion until the night before it was due. The day of the competition was really exciting though (especially since we had never tested our machine at all!!). Luckily, since my group was composed of some really smart people, everything came together and we were able to get our system to create steam. Unfortunately though, we had spent so much time focusing on making our machine small and efficient that we were never able to truly develop an effective collection system for our purified sample of water. With about 15 minutes to go in the contest and all of our evaporated water being funneled back into its contaminated source, we rushed to make a new collection system out of a sponge... but then with 5 minutes to go a kid kicked it over and ruined everything..... Grrr to that kid!

Outside of school I got a chance to meet up with my friend from high school who is on the Gonzaga dance team and was in town to dance at their women's basketball game at Stanford. After a long and stressful week, it was definitely a fun and relaxing day to get to see her and her teammates while just `chillaxin' by the pool.

(Oh and p.s. Although I didn't show it, I was happy on the inside when they lost! Go Broncos!)

Until next time!
Dave

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Posted: March 15, 2007
Headed in the Right Direction

This past weekend was round-two of racing for us. Once again we found ourselves at Lake Natoma in Sacramento, but this time it was for the Sacramento State Invitational. Among the crews present were teams such as Cal Maritime, Sonoma, Cal Lightweights, and of course, Sac State. The day began bright and early for us as we had to be at the race course to rig our boats and get prepared for our team's first race at 8 a.m. Immediately setting the tone for the day was our men's novice four as they came cruising down the lake and finished their race in a time just over seven minutes. Later in the morning they would follow up this performance with another dominating race in the 8 event. All in all I must say that it was quite the impressive outing for them!

In the meantime our varsity squad was preparing to compete in our only race of the day, which was the varsity 8 event. After "putting in" and having a decent warm-up, our boat jumped out in front at the start of the race. After this good start however, we were unable to establish the rhythm that we needed in order to maintain our speed. Gradually the Sac State and the Cal Lightweight crews pulled away from us and ended up winning the race with a fair margin of distance between our boats. Although slightly discouraged following the race, we still remain positive as we realized that we had only had a week to solve the problems that we saw in our first races. Without any races this upcoming weekend, we are definitely looking forward to having more time on the water to practice these changes and to make these adjustments before we enter the main chunk of our season.

Now for the fun and funny things that happened this past weekend...

First of all, after about a month of quoting and reenacting scenes from the movie "300" while walking around campus as a team (and getting some rather weird looks in the process mind you) our team went to see the movie opening day on our way up to Sacramento. Finally our practice had paid off as we all yelled "This is Sparta" and kicked the air in front of us right along with the actor in the movie. Later that night, while back at the Marweg residence and still hyped up about the movie, we had yet another competitive game of Pictionary while devouring pizza. Somehow though, throughout all of the yelling and the cheering, freshman varsity rower Erik Moles was able to fall asleep!! Taking advantage of his mistake, some of us (okay, just me) took the pleasure of putting objects on him and taking pictures for later use as blackmail! For your viewing pleasure I've included one of these photos in this blog.

The next memorable moment happened the next day during the car ride home as we all sang at the top of our lungs to songs by Garth Brooks. Our favorite song to sing along with was "That Summer" as we even went ahead and created a little jig (dance) to go along with it. Amongst all of this excitement and singing, there were still two members in our car who sat rather quietly in the back. Their names were Stephen Smoker and, once again, Erik Moles. It took a change of pace and a song on the radio to get these two to come to life with the rest of us. What song was it though?!?! Well it was none other than "Since You've Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson! (Haha I bet they will be thrilled to know that I have gone ahead and included that tidbit in my blog.)

Eric Moles skipped Pictionary for a nap.


Outside of crew it's been a rather rough week. The mechanical engineering project that I've been mentioning has encountered its third major problem and complete revision in as many weeks. Within that time period we've gone from a rowing machine, to a bike system, to now a simple crank mechanism. However, this current system seems to be more efficient and productive, and it should give us a better chance at succeeding in the overall project.

Other things aside, it's hard times like these that remind me of the saying that "things get the darkest before dawn." Luckily, due to daylight savings time, I now have the opportunity to be reminded of this fact every morning as we arrive to the boathouse underneath the lighting of the stars. It doesn't take long however for the sun to rise and the light of a new day to make everything better again. Therefore, I'm sure everything will always work out for the better.

Enough philosophy from me for now... Until next time, have a great week everyone!! We will be racing USC almost every day at practice this week so stay tuned to hear about how it goes!

-Dave

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Posted: March 7, 2007
Novice?.... What novice?

In crew terminology, a novice rower is someone who is in their first year of competition on the collegiate level, and in most cases this is someone who has never had any rowing experience at all. Entering into our first races of the season this past Saturday our team had twelve novice rowers listed on its roster. However, this would not have been obvious to anyone who viewed the races as the novice 8 boat pulled a sub 6:40 time and beat Sac St. with a fair margin of open water! Having just lost in our own 8 race, we varsity members of the team were amazed to see our teammates comfortably pull away from their competition and calmly cross the finish line as if they had done so many times before.

Following the race I had a chance to catch up with some of the novice rowers and ask them what their thoughts were of the race. An exhausted but definitely pleased "Fun!" was the most common answer that I got from rowers such as freshman Tim Huss, Ryan Amante, and James McGrath. Luis Manrique then added in that, "We couldn't have done this without Matt (Coach Matt Pinschmidt)!" In my opinion Luis couldn't have said it any better as in my three years of rowing for Santa Clara I have never seen a novice crew row such a fast time for their first race.

Could it have been a fluke though?!? Heck no! Within a 24 hour time period the novice were back at it again in the Davis Invitational where they battled for a hard fought second place in the 8 event, but were able to pull out another victory in the 4 event held later in the day. Watching these races unfold and our novice rowers experiencing their first tastes of success was definitely one of the highlights for us varsity rowers this past weekend.

The novice team had a great first weekend.


As for the varsity side of events, we were unable to achieve the goals we had set for ourselves going into this past weekend. After having decent starts in our 8 races, we lost our head of steam crossing the 1000 meter mark and gradually fell behind the other boats as the races neared the end. These race results were definitely a source of some concern and frustration for us. However, after a lengthy discussion following our last 8 race of the weekend, we as a boat feel as if we have addressed the appropriate issues and now have a good idea of how to go about correcting our problems and doing some damage on teams in our upcoming races.

There were a few bright moments for our team this weekend though. After having a sub par performance in their first race, our JV boat made some vast improvements overnight and put up a strong fight against the Cal Lightweight team during the Davis Invitational. Unfortunately they were unable to hold off the lightweight crew in the last 200 meters and they lost by a single seat. Also, having lost against Sac State on Saturday, our varsity four came into the Davis Invitational with a chip on its shoulder and jumped out in front immediately at the start of their race. They went on to win their event by a bow-to-stern margin of victory against some good crews that they will face again in this coming weekend at the Sac State Invitational.

Racing aside, my favorite times of the weekend came at night when our team would gather at the Marweg residence and feast on pizza or pasta while watching movies and playing Pictionary. I couldn't imagine a better ending to a long day of racing than lounging around on some huge couches while eating Round Table Pizza and quoting Jack Black lines from the movie "Orange County"! In fact, having just looked at our upcoming schedule, I have noticed that we will be back in the Sacramento area again this coming weekend...... soooo if Brad Marweg or anyone from his family just happens to see this blog and wants 30 mouths to feed.... Eh eh?!?!? Wink wink, nudge nudge!!

Finally, to quickly wrap this up, nothing too exciting is happening in my life outside of crew. My mechanical engineering project that I mentioned in my previous blog has taken a temporary (or I'm hoping it is temporary) turn for the worse and my group might have to completely restructure our project with only a week left before it is due. Not fun! Aside from school, everyday is a constant battle for me to try and keep my apartment clean. After about half an hour of washing dishes and folding clothes, I immediately turn around and have a pile of dirty laundry on the floor or a mound of dishes in the sink. But all in all, I have no complaints as the weather here in California is getting better by the minute and spring is just around the corner!!

Until next time, take care and have a great week! Also, if you are in the Sacramento area this next weekend come check out our races!

- Dave

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Posted: Feb. 28, 2007
Black Velvet if you please!
With another successful week of practices under our belt, our team entered into this past Saturday with high spirits. After all, this Saturday was none other than our annual Black Velvet celebration which marks the beginning of our racing season. The day began bright and early around 6 a.m. with cozy temperatures reaching into the low 30s. For the first time this year both the men's and women's crews were at the boathouse and on the water at the same time. This made the day a little more interesting as it was fun to be able to watch all of the boats start to gel as cohesive units in preparation for their first races. Also, since this day is traditionally one of the most challenging days of practice during the year, it was exciting to see how hard everyone else in the program was pushing themselves to get faster and better as individuals as well as a team.

For our men's varsity program, this day was rather eventful as it was the first day that our novice rowers took part in the same practice with us. Prior to this day, we, as varsity rowers, had been keeping an eye on the progress of their team and we had noted how quickly they had improved. In fact two weeks ago we were able to experience first hand all of the hard work and effort they have been putting into this year as we watched them compete at an local indoor rowing competition. Therefore, going into Saturday's practice we knew we were going up against some fierce competitors. Fortunately, with more experience and practice on our side, we were able to prevent any major upset from occurring.

Later that same day, our entire program met once again at a restaurant nearby for the dinner portion of the Black Velvet celebration. Personally, this is one of my favorite parts of the day because for once everyone wears something other than spandex or workout clothes! Also, it's always fun to listen to the stories that the coaches and alumni share about the year and their rowing experiences. Anyway, as the day came to a close our attention shifted towards the upcoming week and our final steps in preparation for our first race of the season.

Aside from crew, nothing too newsy is happening in my life. School is going well and luckily I haven't fallen behind with any of my class assignments. One interesting note though is that I have a junior design project that I am working on for one of my mechanical engineering classes. This project is a national competition and the goal is to build a man-powered machine that boils water. Without getting into too much detail and spilling some of our valuable secrets, my project group has decided to go with a machine design that is based off of the principals of an erg (rowing machine). However, since I am the only member in my group who rows or has had any rowing experience, I have this sickening suspicion that I will be doing most of the "man-power" for our actual competition...I guess I will have to keep you informed on that!

Well that is about all I have to share for now. I hope all of you out there have a wonderful week! If you happen to be in the Sacramento area this coming weekend, stop in and watch us race! Otherwise make sure you check back in here next week and I will give you a full update of how our races went.

Take care and I'll talk to you soon!
-Dave

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Posted: Feb. 22, 2007
Opening Blog
Hi all!! My name is David Merselis and I have been given the opportunity to be the men's crew team blogger for the 2007 season! This is very exciting for me as I am definitely looking forward to sharing all of our stories and events with you on a weekly basis. However, before I get too far along with this first blog, I would like to tell you a little about myself so that you can get an idea of the person that I am.

The first thing that comes to mind that I would like to share is that I am a Hoosier at heart! Although I've spent a good portion of my life in Indiana I have also had the opportunity to live in Seaford, England, and my family now currently resides in Sammamish, Washington. So, you might now be asking yourself, `why did he decide to come to California for school??' It's quite simple actually! If you know any of those places you'd be aware of the fact that they are cold and rainy (with the exception of Indiana's hot summers) and Santa Clara was the exact outlet that I was looking for.

Anyway, I started rowing my freshman year here at Santa Clara University and this is now my third year on the team. Outside of crew I'm studying mechanical engineering and in my free time I like to road bike, mountain climb, or anything else that involves the outdoors.

Okay, now for the important stuff!! This is a big week for our program as it is the week of our Black Velvet celebration. For those of you who aren't aware of Black Velvet, it's a tradition that was started back on the East Coast and it symbolizes the first day in the winter when the ice on the water melts and you are able to row. Luckily, even though we had a couple straight weeks of 20 degree weather this year, we have never had such extreme conditions on the water (but we like to celebrate the occasion anyway!) For our program, the day itself marks the beginning of our racing season as it will be exactly one week prior to our dual with Sac State.

In addition to the fact that we like to celebrate the arrival of our long awaited season, we as rowers also appreciate this day as it gives us an opportunity to meet up with the alumni rowers at our evening dinner. It is always a lot of fun for us to hear as well as share stories and experiences with the alumni during this dinner. Furthermore, it's always enjoyable to see slide shows and pictures from past years as it adds to the sense of the tradition that our program has.

Alright well I guess I better get back to studying for my midterm... (Not fun!) I hope you all have a great week! Make sure to check back in every once in a while so I can keep you updated with what's going on!

Until next time....