Adiran Spraklen & Mercyhurst Men's Rowing

By Sparks Editorial Staff | May 23, 2012

What kind of school offers a lightweight rower the opportunity to compete for a collegiate National Championship? The most common answer would be a school in the EARC Sprints League, however there are opportunities outside the EARC, and more specifically at Mercyhurst University.

Mercyhurst University, a small liberal arts college in Erie, PA, has a DII Varsity Rowing program led by head coach Adrian Spraklen, son of Canadian National Team Head Coach Mike Spraklen. Spraklen, entering his 21st year at Mercyhurst, and assistant coach Jamie Francis coach both the men and women at Mercyhurst. The Men's and Women's squads function and race as one team, however the program is best known for producing some of the fastest collegiate lightweight boats in the past few years.

"The goal this year is to put together a fast boat, race well at the Dad Vail, and if successful, test our speed at the IRA"

The results have steadily improved over the past few years, winning the Lightweight 4+ event at the Dad Vail Regatta in 2008 & 2009 and then Lightweight 8+ in 2010 & 2011. Francis explains, "In 2011, by winning the Dad Vail Championship we qualified for the IRA National Championship Regatta, however, due to some international students traveling home for summer, we were unable to attend." 2012 is a new season and for Mercyhurst, the Dad Vail Regatta is quickly approaching. "The goal this year is to put together a fast boat, race well at the Dad Vail, and if successful, test our speed at the IRA" says Francis, "The guys have put in a ton of work this winter and we are excited about our speed."

The results this season have been very promising. The Mercyhurst Lightweights tend to race as heavyweight regattas throughout the majority of their season. Francis explains "racing in heavyweight events gives us more opportunities to race, they are more subscribed, so our guys learn more from racing heats, semis and finals rather than a final only."

"…….racing in heavyweight events gives us more opportunities to race, they are more subscribed, so our guys learn more from racing heats, semis and finals rather than a final only."

Francis, the head recruiter for Mercyhurst, says that 90% of the men's squad are lightweights and that the majority of the recruits for the Class of 2016 are lightweights. They have no raw clean-cut metric for recruiting student athletes. "It could be easy to say we want guys in the 6:30s for 2k on the erg but we don't necessarily look for the best erg or the best boat mover, but more so for an individual who will add value to the team. We want good athletes who have a good work ethic and will do everything possible within themselves to succeed."

……more so for an individual who will add value to the team. We want good athletes who have a good work ethic and will do everything possible within themselves to succeed."

When asked "what type of individual wants to row at Mercyhurst?", Francis responds "if a student wants to find out how good they can be, come to Mercyhurst. We help athletes identify their potential in the sport and teach them everything needed to accomplish their goals.." Francis adds that academically, Mercyhurst offers a great small school experience, with under 4000 students and great student faculty ratio, in addition to some of the best academic program in the country, most notably: intelligence studies, archeology and anthropology, and educational studies.

Catch Mercyhurst University on May 11 & 12, 2012 at the Dad Vail Regatta where they will be looking to win their third straight lightweight 8 Championship.

- Glenn Ochal