The WAHS crew team followed up its wildly successful 2016 state and national championship winning season by chalking up eight medals at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Championships and two silver medals at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Nationals. “We entered ten boats in the state championships and brought home four gold, two silver, and two bronze medals,” said coach Craig Redinger. “We had quite a legacy to uphold, and I think we definitely lived up to it.”
The team’s performance led them to place seven boats at the national competition, which was held last week on the Cooper River in Camden, NJ.
“Both the women’s and the men’s senior quads dominated their state championship races,” he said. “This was particularly satisfying for our men’s quad team, as they had never won that event before.” Juniors Peter Dister and Noah Davis, and seniors Spencer Hale and Wiley Martin rowed the men’s quad to the win, thereby claiming a spot in the national meet. “We’re very proud of this accomplishment as, while the women’s team has traditionally been more successful and outnumbered the men’s national qualifiers by a margin of two to one, this year’s state championship performance has really ushered in a new era,” he added.
Meanwhile, the women’s quad—named “Mama Pitts” in honor of the team’s founder, Myriam Pitts, who passed away at the age of 59 in November—dominated the state championships; took silver at the largest high school regatta in the country, the Stotesbury Cup (which was held on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia); and placed second at the May 26 national meet. While two members of 2016’s gold-medal-winning quad team had graduated, two returned: team captain Carrie Smith and Maggie Vidal, both seniors. Joining the veterans were senior Grace von Elten and junior Hannah Carter.
“The rivalry with our nemesis from the Stotesbury Cup, Conestoga, continued at Nationals and, although we led for half the race and reduced their winning margin by a full second, we couldn’t quite catch them,” said Redinger, whose quad team lost by four seconds in the national meet.
Next year, two of the senior girls from the “Mama Pitts” will row at NCAA division one schools—Smith at Notre Dame and von Elten at the University of Virginia.
Also placing at the national competition was the women’s lightweight quad, which brought home a silver medal. “This was really a pleasant surprise,” said Redinger. “We had Noa Kipnis in bow, Paula Petersen and Caroline Allison providing the power in the middle two seats, and freshman Delaney Crotteau stroking a boat that the girls had rowed just once previously. The fact that these young rowers were able to pull this off is a testimony to their hard-work and dedication throughout the season.”
Additional placers at the state events included two men’s singles scullers: James Mahoney, a junior, rowed to a win in the lightweight event, and Christopher Keller, a sophomore, took first place in the junior event. In the men’s junior double, Cove Haydock, a sophomore, and junior Ben Burroughs took the silver. Freshly minted varsity members, freshman Sam von Elten and senior Liam Kidd, rowed their double to a bronze.
On the women’s side, in lightweight doubles, seniors Kelsey Tarleton and Leah Gillespie placed second, while sophomore Madelyn Abrahamson and freshman Eva Massarelli placed fourth. “In the closest race of the day, our junior women’s quad team was in a photo-finish that had them drop to third place by just one-tenth of a second,” said Redinger. The bronze-winning boat was rowed by junior Jordan Neuman, sophomores Clare O’Connell and Kira Martin, and freshman Lilli Hansen. Rounding out the women’s quad races were junior Paula Petersen and Kipnis, Allison and Crotteau, placing fourth.