Senior rower Chet Bickhart carries a boat to the river at practice. Last summer, he won four gold medals at the USRowing Club National Championships in Ohio. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Captain Chet Bickhart establishes himself as leader for Lehigh men’s rowing

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The Lehigh rowing team officially kicked off its season Saturday with the Lehigh Invitational under the guidance of senior captain Chet Bickhart.

Competing with high-level programs, both the men’s and women’s “A” boats were able to pull off fourth place finishes in the 3,500-meter regatta.

Bickhart, who is one of the returning athletes on Lehigh’s roster, will bring his recent experience to the table. Last summer, he won four gold medals at the USRowing Club National Championships in Ohio.

“Rowing this past summer was a lot of fun because I had the opportunity to train with other lightweight rowers from programs all over the country,” Bickhart said.

Bickhart said he hopes to use this experience to lead the Mountain Hawks to a successful season.

He said the team he rowed with this summer practiced more than once each day, so the rowers had the chance to bond with one another. From this experience, Bickhart said he took away valuable knowledge on how to lead a team.

“In the one month I’ve been on the team, (Bickhart) has really been the ultimate leader in the boat,” freshman Cameron Rosenthal said. “He has a relentless attitude, (is) by far the most experienced on the team and always helps everyone to understand exactly what they need to be doing.”

It’s week one of the rowing team’s season and freshmen agree Bickhart has already made a lasting impact on the team.

“T.N.T. by ACDC starts playing in my head,” Bickhart said. “It’s the perfect song to describe what this year is going to be like: chaos mixed with explosions and sweat, dirt-covered faces and disgusting gym bags. That is what I expect out of the upcoming season.”

Bickhart said the program is primed to do some damage this year and the team’s training cycle will reflect how dangerous it will be against other programs across the country. He said the team believes a championship could come for the Mountain Hawks in the near future.

“Our program is strong,” Bickhart said. “There are members of our team who are doing great things, and we have to continue that momentum if we are going to become a championship team.”

He said his main focus for the year is ensuring that when he graduates, his teammates know what it’s like to fail and succeed, two attributes he said a rower needs to have to be great at this level.

Lehigh will hit the water for Navy Day at the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia on Oct. 14.

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