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Yorktown Crews Earn Three Trips to Ted Phoenix Awards Dock
Freshman Boys Upset Higher Seeded Rivals in Surprise Silver Medal Finish.
The younger contingent of the Yorktown crew team rowed aggressively and well Saturday, May 7, on the calm waters of the Occoquan at this year's Ted Phoenix Lower Boat Regatta, the annual state championship race for the third varsity 8s, freshman and novice 8s and novice 4s. Yorktown earned more medals in 2011 than in any prior Ted Phoenix appearance, winning the men’s 3V 8 and taking silver in both the men and women’s freshman, the highest combined finish for any freshman class in YHS history. The 3rd 8’s successful defense of the team's 3rd 8 win last year was the first time a Yorktown crew had ever repeated as state champ in rowing at any level.
The day started before dawn with trailer and buses beginning to roll to Occoquan at 5 AM. After a chilly cox/coach meeting, the first events of the day started at 8 AM. First up for YHS were the freshman men in a 3-to-advance heat. The Patriot freshmen steamed home comfortably in 3rd place, behind #1 seed TC Williams and #4 seed W-L. They advanced to a six boat grand final and would race in lane 1 later in the morning.
Next up were the freshman woman, the #1 seed in their event in another 3-to-advance heat. In a tight race for first the Patriot women came up just short of the Lake Braddock crew, the #4 seed, which edged them out by 0.6 of a second. The YHS woman advanced easily in 2nd place, 10 seconds ahead of 3rd place. They would race from lane 5 in the final.
Next off the line was the men’s novice 8 in a 2-to-advance heat. Unfortunately the young Pats came up just short, finishing 3rd behind crews from Madison and TJ, and did not advance to the finals.
Next on the schedule were the novice 4s. Both the men and women’s YHS fours advanced and would race again in the finals. The last qualifying race of the morning was the women’s novice 8, in a 2-to-advance heat. Here again the junior Patriots came up just short, finishing third behind Woodson and Oakton.
After a short mid-morning coffee break the finals began shortly after 10 AM. First down the finals chute for Yorktown was the unbeaten and #1 ranked men’s third varsity 8. In a six-boat, one-and-done final the Yorktown men blasted off the start at over 42 strokes a minute and took the lead from the first stroke. Up by almost a length at halfway, the Patriot crew was challenged by a tough crew from Westfield in the last 250 meters, but hung on with a ferocious sprint of their own at 40+ stokes a minute to win by almost 3 seconds. Stroke-man Jeremy "Maverick" Nussbaum summed it up pretty well after the race, "Once we had the lead off the start we were not going to let anyone get by us, we knew we could hold on and we did."
Immediately following this superb race, the third varsity women rowed in what became a four-boat final. With five crews entered, this event would have awarded medals to the top three finishers, but with a Mt. Vernon non-start or scratch medals would only go to the top two crews. Sadly, our girls missed their bronze medal on a technicality and finished 3rd behind TC Williams and Westfield, but besting the top-seeded Robinson crew that had beaten the Patriot women by almost 10 seconds just a few weeks earlier.After the
3V boats headed to the recovery dock, the crowd turned its attention to the freshman men’s final. As the crowd strained to see down the course through binoculars and sun-shaded eyes, the crews were clearly all closely packed. It appeared that the Yorktown men, rowing in lane 1 in the Spirit of '98, a blue-painted shell that had taken four previous YHS crews to the awards dock since its acquisition in 2007, miraculously were in the lead! As the crews came into clearer view under the wires it seemed all four of the top contenders were within just a few seats of one another—TJ, TC Williams, Washington-Lee and Yorktown all sprinted by the grandstand overlapped. Who would get to the finish first, and who would lose out on a medal, no one could tell. It looked like TJ had pushed into the lead in the last 100 meters, but after that uncertainty reigned.
The finish line official finally announced the order of finish, "The winner of the men’s freshman 8 was Thomas Jefferson, 2nd place......Yorktown, 3rd place.....TC Williams" Joy in Patriot land!! TJ had won it in a time of 5:12.9, followed by YHS in 5:14.5, with TC at 5:15.2 and W-L at 5:15.4. This was a huge upset of two crews that had seemed solidly ahead of the Class of 2014 crew just a few weeks ago, but after the training at Camp Bob, the freshmen were ready on race day and made it happen.
Next came the long awaited grudge match between the two freshman women’s crews that had long ago established themselves as a good cut above the rest of the field—Yorktown and National Cathedral. The #1 and #2 seeds respectively, racing in lanes 4 and 5, along with Lake Braddock in lane 3, pushed way, way out ahead of the field by 500 meters to go. But on this day, it was National Cathedral that found the good race and powered ahead of Yorktown to win by 5.6 seconds. Yorktown was second at 5:47.2, with Lake Braddock third at 5:48.1. With the freshman women winning silver along with the men, the Class of 2014 had pulled an "Awards Dock Double" no class had ever done in the 43 year history of YHS crew.
Award dock dates were not forthcoming for the two novice fours, which finished out the day working hard, but trailing some very strong opposition. The men steamed home in 5th, the women 4th.
All in all, another big day for Yorktown. As he does every year, Coach Andy Bacas could be heard saying to anyone who would listen, "I love Camp Bob!"
Coach Carol Dinion, in a more analytical frame of mind, summed it up best, "With all the mileage we do indoors and outdoors with our novices and junior crews over the course of the season, we are pretty tough to beat come May."