Patriot Men Show Strength in Tough Test at St. Andrews

A tired, battered, but game group of Yorktown boys and their parents made the trek up to beautiful St. Andrews School in Middletown, DE, for the second Noxontown Pond Regatta of the 2012 season the morning after returning from spring training at Camp Bob Cooper in Summerton, SC. Yorktown raced in the third, second and first varsity eight races.

The weather was great for spectating, sunny and comfortable in the low to mid 60s, but with a strong cross-headwind that was gusting to 25 knots.

Competing in the boy's events were the host St Andrews School, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, West Springfield High School and Ocean City High School of New Jersey.

The 3V was the first boat to row for Yorktown, drawing the more difficult and windy lane 3 for the race. TBC rival BCC drew the wind-sheltered lane 1 on the far side of the race course. The fiery Yorktown crew, led by stroke-man Jeremy Nussbaum, rocketed off the line at more than 40 strokes a minute and took the lead through the first 500 meters. By the midpoint at 750 meters the wind began to take its toll on the Patriots, and the Barons, rowing in the smoother waters in lane 1, began to creep up. Through the windiest part of the course the BCC crew took the lead and pushed out to an open water margin, winning the race by 10 seconds, but the tough YHS 3V held on to second, 13 big seconds up on St. Andrews, Ocean City and West Springfield. The only other VASRA school in the race, West Springfield, was 25 seconds behind our charging 3V, setting our crew up as a favorite to repeat as Virginia state champs for the 3rd year in a row. It is fair to note that BCC is a year-round program that will not participate in the VASRA lower boar championships May 5.

Next up for Yorktown was the 2V, fresh off a stunning upset of perennial rival and powerhouse Thomas Jefferson at the Occoquan race on March 31. Stroked by junior Sam Gallerano, the powerful YHS 2V drew the lucky assignment of lane 1 and made the most of it. They pushed out to an early lead on BCC and never relinquished it, opening up an open water margin of six seconds at the finish with a big sprint. The only blemish on their stellar performance was giving up the lead to the lightweight first varsity crew from Ocean City. The OC lightweights sprinted by the Patriots with about 400 meters to go, but the YHS crew took almost all of Ocean City’s lead back in the last 20 strokes and came up just short of a pure win, finishing 0.6 seconds behind the determined OC lightweight crew. SAS, a Stotes medalist in the 2V last year, was seven seconds back of the leaders, with West Springfield well back, 51 seconds off the blistering pace.  Again the YHS crew is looking to be one the favorites for a state title at the VASRA championships May 12.

Our 1V has been struggling with a series of injuries and illnesses that have kept some of our best athletes out of our top crew. This week was no exception with stroke-man Andrew Knizner out with an illness and 1V candidate Josh Doyon out with an injury. Not missing a beat, however, Ben Vihstadt slipped down from his usual spot at 6 to stroke for this weekend's race and Sam Gallerano rowed twice, filling in at the 4 seat after stroking the 2V to its "technical win". After some stellar rowing and hard seat racing in South Carolina, the Patriot 1V was a bit worn down, but was tuned up and sharp for this early season contest with two Stotesbury finalist crews from last year. SAS was last year's Stotesbury silver medalist and Henley Royal Regatta runner up. The Patriots again were assigned an outside lane, lane 2 in this case, with SAS in lane 3 and BCC in lane 4. By far the lightest of the three crews, the YHS boys nonetheless blasted off the line into an early lead that they held until about 1000 meters, at which point the big bodies of the other crews and the tired legs from a week of 3-a-days began to tell. St Andrews pushed out to a length-plus lead in the last 500 and BCC pushed their nose ahead of the dogged Patriot 8 in the last 300. At the finish it was St Andrews first at 4:57.1, BCC second at 5:01.6 and YHS at 5:05.4. Just as a point of reference, the other VASRA crew, West Springfield, was again a good distance back at 5:33.6.  

In summary, it was a good showing for a tired and limited Patriot squad. The YHS 2V time of 5:04.9 was actually faster than the 1V time of 5:05.4, owing perhaps to differing wind conditions, but indicative of the kind of depth and potential for the whole team. With more talent due to flow back into the Patriot ranks over the coming weeks, continued line-up refinement, improved stamina and technical attention, the 2012 YHS men’s team is not yet at full speed.  With four weeks until Ted Phoenix, five weeks to States, and seven weeks to Nationals, the team has a lot of training ahead of it—and looks forward to using all of it.