By Tom von Hemert
The Western Albemarle High School Rowing Club won several state championship awards at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Regatta held on the Occoquan Reservoir in Northern Virginia May 11.
Dani Lucas came in first in women’s varsity single. Owen Coleman (stroke) and Mark Simonds (bow) placed first in the men’s varsity double.
The men’s varsity quad, consisting of Sam Tobey (stroke), Jake Amtmann, Carter Spradlin and Cole Bright (bow) placed second, finishing only three-tenths of a second behind first place.
Luke von Hemert won third place in men’s varsity single.
The women’s varsity quad, including Emmy Thacker (stroke), Georgina Zajonc, Peri Bowser and Kaitlyn Jefferson (bow), finished in third place.
Western Rowing was also awarded the men’s Division II state championship award.
The club, which is comprised of only 20 students, practices on Beaver Creek Reservoir in Crozet. Most of the WAHS rowers had less than one year of crew racing experience. At the state championships they won several events against other high schools that have over 200 rowers (with paid coaches) in varsity status programs, which are funded by their schools and communities. All the coaches at Beaver Creek Sculling Boathouse are volunteers and the program is funded by the parents of the rowers.
Albemarle High School joined the Beaver Creek boathouse this spring with only six rowers and yet won the men’s varsity quad race at the state championship.
The week after the state championships the rowers raced at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia. More than 10,000 high school rowers from all over the country compete in this race. Dani Lucas placed second at this prestigious event. She will continue her rowing career at Stanford University this coming fall. Lucas was selected to row on the U.S. Junior National Rowing Team last summer.
Because the rowers placed so well at the State Championship regatta, these boats were invited to race against the best high school rowers in the United States at the SRAA Nationals in Camden, New Jersey, May 21-22. No Western rowers finished in the medals, but earning this invitation was a tremendous accomplishment.