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YHS Crews Find Room to Row on the Anacostia Thanks to Gonzaga and Georgetown Visitation
High water washes out Charlie Butt Regatta on the Potomac.
In a whirlwind of rescheduling on Friday, Yorktown managed to find a place to race on a sunny Saturday, April 30, thanks in huge measure to the flexibility and hospitality of Gonzaga head coach Marc Mandel. Already a proven friend of our program, Coach Mandel did not let us down this time either, casually taking Coach Andy Bacas' frantic email of Friday morning completely in stride and in effect saying, "We have room to accommodate your whole team, come on over." So after a short practice Friday on the flood-swollen Potomac, the YHS crews again packed up all their shells and equipment and prepared for a Saturday row on the Anacostia River with some of the best crews in the area.
The original event was scheduled as a Saturday men’s tri-meet between Gonzaga, TJ and Central Catholic of Pittsburgh and a women’s dual meet between Georgetown Visitation and TJ. At the same venue Friday afternoon, Gonzaga/Visitation hosted their annual dual race with their counterparts at St. Albans/National Cathedral. These races are known as the Foley Cup for the men and the Carr Cup for the women. Once it became clear the Charlie Butt Regatta was going to be canceled due to high water on the Potomac, both Andy and St. Albans coach, Ted Haley, called Marc Mandel about rowing in Gonzaga’s Saturday event. All the STA/NCS gear was going to be on-site anyway and all YHS had to do was load their trailer and drive cross town. Marc had lanes to offer on his four lane course, a schedule was drawn up, and a series of four and three boat races replaced the original 2 and 3 boat match-ups.
The women rowed first:
- Opening the action, the YHS novice 8 easily topped its Visitation opponent by open water. A good start for Yorktown.
- Also racing in the novice 8 race, as an exhibition entry, was the newly set novice 4. The four got off to a fast start and stayed even with the Yorktown novice 8 until the last 500 meters. The crew finished 2nd overall, finishing ahead of the Georgetown Visitation novice 8 and only about 3 boat lengths back from the Yorktown novice 8.
- In the freshman 8, the powerful YHS crew had to overcome a big crab off the start, but battled the length of the course in a tough give-and-take match with a crew from NCS and was edged out of first by 0.8 of a second. This close finish sets up a great rematch this weekend at the Ted Phoenix Lower Boat Championship Regatta between these two top freshman 8s, both of whom bested TJ by open water.
- Yorktown topped National Cathedral again in the 3V and 2V races, but fell each time to Visitation. In the 2V TJ had an entry and finished first, open water ahead of both Vizzy and Yorktown. All three of these crews—TJ, Visitation and NCS—will be competing against YHS again at states.
- The much-anticipated match-up between a tremendously tall TJ crew and YHS in the first varsity 8 proved well worth the wait. In a powerful show of force, both TJ and Yorktown put open water on their two private school opponents with TJ coming out on top, five second up on YHS, with NCS trailing almost eight seconds back of the Patriots and Visitation another eight seconds back on NCS. This outcome sets up a big three way match at states between Madison, TJ and YHS, all a good distance better than any of the other crews this year. With two weeks to prepare the Patriot women no doubt will be ready.
On the men’s side of things more exciting racing followed:
- The YHS freshman and novice crews found themselves in tough races against some of the best crews in the region. Central Catholic and Gonzaga are all-boy schools with a big draw into crew. Gonzaga for example has three freshman 8s and they learn to row in the fall. Likewise, TJ has 3-4 “novice" 8s. Our men found it tough going, finishing well back of all but Gonzaga’s third freshman boat.
- The Yorktown 3V, who rowed in the Gonzaga 4V event, made another big statement, finishing within seven seconds of the YHS 2V's time, which is a big improvement over prior gaps of 15 seconds or more. The YHS 3V has not lost to a VASRA opponent all year and will be competing for gold on May 7 at Ted Phoenix.
- Our 2V, which races in VASRA as a junior 8, was matched against the St. Albans 3V, which also races as a J8 in VASRA. St. Albans had beaten our J8 at Occoquan on April 9, but the Patriots, strengthened in numerous ways after Camp Bob, came back and bested their STA nemesis by almost a full length and seem primed to row for gold at the VASRA championship on May 14. Gonzaga's 3V, which will compete at Stotesbury as a lightweight 8, won the event, four seconds up on the Patriot J8.
- The 1V competition was set up as a two-race round robin of sorts. The original match tri-meet of Gonzaga, Central and TJ would row in one heat and the two add-in VASRA crews, STA and YHS, would race each other in a match race. The winner of the VASRA heat would row against the top two from the tri-meet and the two last place boats would face off. YHS and STA came down the chute first. After an even start, the bigger STA crew slowly began to creep out about halfway and widened their margin over YHS to 4.5 seconds at the finish. In the other race, Gonzaga topped Central with TJ a close third.
In the big grudge match finals, the racing could not have been better. In the YHS-TJ match, the two schools, which have battled for medals each of the last four years at states, raced stroke for stroke for much of the first 750, but YHS found the speed in the second half and pulled away to win by 4.4 seconds; the biggest margin ever over TJ for YHS in local competition. Quite an achievement for a program that had not beaten TJ ever, anywhere, prior to Stotesbury in 2008.
In the grander final, STA rowed away from Gonzaga and Central, winning by a commanding seven-second margin over a fine Gonzaga crew and 11 seconds over Central. Both of these crews, Gonzaga and Central had beaten STA head to head at Middletown, DE, on April 16. With a re-configured line-up and more confidence after being crushed by St Andrews, St Joes and Central on April 16, the resurgent Bulldogs of St Albans are looking like the Stotes finalists they were last year and will go into the VASRA championship the clear #1 seed. Hopefully YHS will earn a #2 or #3 seed, assuming polling coaches take account of the YHS win over TJ, which had beaten both Westfield and Oakton earlier in the season.