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Tough Competition At States; Men’s 2V Snares Silver
The Virginia state championship regatta May 12 featured great racing and a solid showing for Yorktown crew, with all four boats claiming spots in the grand final of their respective events. The competition was strong, however, and only the men’s 2V came home with a medal, finishing second behind a fast St. Albans boat.
In their morning heat, the men’s 2V struggled at the start; they fell a few seats back of a fired-up crew from Thomas Jefferson and never caught up. The men finished second in their heat, putting them in lane 2 for the final.
Following that race, the men’s 1V, seeded third overall, won their heat by a touch of open water over Madison and advanced to the grand final, where they also would race out of lane 2. Both mens’ crews launched for their finals with plans to challenge the favored St. Albans boats and let the chips fall where they might.
In the 2V final, Yorktown got off to a much better start than in its heat and held even with the undefeated St. Albans boat, racing in lane 3, for the first 400 meters. This good start got the Patriots moving on Madison in lane 1 and T.J. in lane 4. Once the Bulldogs of St. Albans started to pull away from the Patriots, the YHS 2V had established a solid lead on both T.J. and Madison and the race was on for the silver medal.
The only late challenge in this race came not from T.J. or Madison, however, but from W-L out in lane 6 who made a strong late charge from the far lane after moving easily past Robinson in lane 5. The psychological boost from moving on the adjacent crew proved a telling matter in this race, as it would in the 1V race to come later. As the 2V crews came by the grandstand, St. Albans had moved out to a comfortable lead with a bit of open water between it and Yorktown, which held an open water lead over T.J. The final sprint from W-L was nail-biting, but they did not have enough room to finish off the comeback and ended up 1.5 seconds back in third, with YHS second.
Coached by former YHS assistant and W-L grad Rob Shaw the W-L 2V has improved significantly since the Charlie Butt regatta, and way out-performed their number seven seed coming in. Congratulations to Rob and the W-L boys for the big upset, which resulted in an all upper Potomac sweep in the 2V event. Both Arlington crews received and accepted bids to represent VASRA at SRAA Nationals May 25 and 26.
In the 1V final, it again looked like St Alban's race to lose based on the morning heat times, but the Patriot 1V men were not to be intimidated. In this final, however, fortuitous lane placement was not to fall Yorktown's way. T.J. was upset in its morning heat by a furious last 20-stroke sprint by Westfield and finished second, placing them not in lane 4 as expected but in lane 1. The Patriot men, open water winners of heat 3, advanced to lane 2, with St. Albans next to them in lane 3. Westfield took lane 4, with W-L in lane 5 and Madison in lane 6. In this very closely matched field for places 2-6, these little details ended up making a great deal of difference. Unfortunately, Yorktown ended up with the fastest-starting and physically strongest crews flanking them on either side.
Off the start, St. Albans and T.J. moved on the field leaving YHS, W-L, Westfield and Madison to battle to stay in the race. YHS had to fight the feeling of slipping to the early leaders on both sides, while outside, W-L moved on its two neighbors, Westfield and Madison. This double whammy on both sides of Westfield in lane 4 took some of the sparkle out of the heat 2 winner and by 500 to go, the hard-sprinting crew was too far back to make a go at the medals, headed ultimately for 6th. YHS was still overlapped with T.J., but a few seats back, battling to hold third, while St. Albans had broken contact with the field in first and had a commanding lead with 400 to go. BUT, three lanes over, W-L had pushed past both Westfield and Madison and had the momentum coming into the final sprint.
As the crews closed on the finish, St. Albans had the field by more than a length for its third Virginia state championship in a row, with a bang, bang, bang finish for places two to four. In the end, it was W-L charging through in lane 5 that nipped both T.J. and YHS for second, with T.J. holding on for third. The final margins for W-L and T.J. were just 1.59 and 1.37 seconds, respectively, over Yorktown—painfully small but telling differences. This was W-L’s first trip back to the medal dock since 2007 when YHS and W-L finished second and third. This also was Yorktown's first out-of-the-medals finish in the 1V in six years—a learning experience that should make for a more focused effort at Nationals when all four top finishers will face off one last time at Cooper River in New Jersey.
On the women’s side, it was a day of great racing and promising results. The 2V women were seeded 8th going into the championship and thus were racing in an outside lane in their heat. With three to advance and the strong Madison women in their heat, the girls knew they would have to beat a couple of boats ranked ahead of them to move on—and they did. The Lady Patriots finished second behind Madison in the heat, beating both fifth-ranked Robinson and fourth-ranked Oakton.
Their strong performance landed the girls in lane five of the grand final. The 2V had a solid race and finished 5th overall, with Madison winning easily with a nine second advantage over NCS. In third, another boat length back was T.C. Williams, with T.J. right behind. The 2V will race as a Junior 8 at Stotesbury this coming weekend.
The 1V started out the year knowing they had some work to do, having lost four seniors to college squads. Each week during the season the crew did just that, it worked hard and gained speed. Their hard work earned them a sixth seed coming into states, but they were in a two-to-advance heat, alongside top-ranked Madison and seventh-ranked Oakton. Having not raced during the season, it was unclear which team had the better opportunity to move on. The 1V had a fantastic start and jumped out front in the first 500. Madison powered through them in the middle 500, but Oakton couldn't make up the difference. The 1V finished open water in front of Oakton and advanced to the final.
Yorktown was in lane 5 between T.J. and NCS. The 1V couldn’t quite stay with the leaders, but knowing a spot at Nationals was on the line pushed them at the end. They battled with Robinson all the way down the course and in the last 30 strokes sprinted past both Robinson and T.C. Williams, finishing 4th overall behind a stellar Madison crew in first, NCS in second, and T.J. in third.
The future looks bright for the top women's boats as there are just three seniors in the two boats combined. But that is for next year, now it is on to Stotesbury and Nationals.
--Full results are available at http://row2k.com/results/resultspage.cfm?UID=9601976&cat=6#.UGJg4VEq6Sp