IUSM teams participate in IUPUI Regatta for second year
By Juan Guzman
It happens every year at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, but up until last year the Indiana University School of Medicine did not have much recognition at the IUPUI Regatta, an annual canoe race on the downtown canal sponsored by the IUPUI Student Organization for Alumni Relations.
That all changed after Gubernaculum, a team led by third-year medical student Ethan Morrical, won the 2011 IUPUI Regatta and changed the way medical students viewed the event. The team, which also participated in this year’s event Saturday, Sept. 22, returned to take sixth place with a time of eight minutes and 16 seconds, narrowly beaten out by other contenders, including the IU School of Dentistry, which took both the first and second places.
"I live on the canal, so I saw the regatta my first year of medical school,” Morrical said. “Last year, I decided to participate for the first time.”
Gubernaculum and Without A Scalpel – a second IUSM team headed by second-year medical student Danyal Fer – was sponsored by the IU School of Medicine through the Dean’s Office and the Medical Alumni Association. This is the first year in which the medical school provided two teams up to $140 each to cover costs such as registration fees. A third team, Olecranon, led by IUSM student Geoffrey Peitz, also took part in the race.
In addition to Morrical, Gubernaculum included IUSM students Andy Krack, Hunter Oliver-Allen, and John Murray. Without a Scalpel’s other members were Kevin Nowak, Daniel Sassoon and Heather Benson, all second-year medical students. Olecranon's other members were Mark Hopkins, Alan Hyslop, Ethan Ferguson and Ben Wahle.
The race route, which extended from Fairbanks Hall at the north end of the canal at 11th Street to the Walnut Street basin – the location of the USS Indianapolis monument – is a half mile. Last year, Gubernaculum crossed the finish line in seven minutes and 10 seconds to beat out the second place finishers by a whopping 45 seconds. In honor of the 2011 win, the team’s names were enshrined on the IUPUI Regatta Trophy and each member was given a commemorative wooden canoe. A sixth place finish in this year’s race still places the team among the fastest at Saturday’s event, which once again included 111 other teams.
In addition to the other teams in 2011, Morrical notes that last year’s win also beat out a team led by his older brother, Brandon, a graduate of the IU School of Medicine who is now a pediatrics intern at the Mayo Clinic. “That made for some nice sibling rivalry,” he jokes.
Fer, who is president of the IUSM Class of 2015, was encouraged to participate in this year’s race through friends who had previously taken part in the event. He quickly put together a team after learning about the opportunity to be sponsored by the medical school. Without a Scalpel took third place in the third preliminary during this year’s race with a time of eight minutes and 55 seconds but failed to advance to the finals. Olecranon placed 17th in the finals.
Although Morrical participated on the sailing team at Hope College during his undergraduate years, he and Fer each admit they didn’t undertake any particularly rigorous training leading up to the race. However, Gubernaculum did go so far as to bring a canoe into town the week before the race to catch a few practice laps.
Still, win or lose, both doctors-in-training said that taking part in events such as the regatta provide an important chance to escape the demands of the classroom and the clinic.
“Participating in the race is a huge stress reliever, especially for medical students,” said Fer, who is conducting research as well as working towards his medical degree. “Our focus shifts for a bit from medicine and school to trying to compete, to do our best, and to win the race.”
Morrical, who’s equally busy schedule includes service an officer in the American Medical Association, president of the Global Health Student Interest Group and junior co-chair for the Office of Medical-Service Learning, also acknowledged that it’s sometimes challenging for medical students to find time to participate in extracurricular events such as the regatta.
But once they’re in, he said, they’re all in.
“Medical students tend to dedicate themselves strongly to everything they’re involved in,” Fer added. “That might be the reason our teams have been so successful.”
For more results from the 2012 IUPUI Regatta, visit the Race Day Results page.
Story photo: Team Gubernaculum in the first heat of the 2012 IUPUI Regatta.