T.C. Men's First Varsity 4 – 2017 State Champs (courtesy photo)

Titan Boats Finish Virginia State Championships with Five Gold Medals

The T. C. Williams High School crew team battled the best boats in Virginia in the second part of the 2017 Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Championship series on May 13. The Titan Men’s First 4 and the Women’s Lightweight Doubles both claimed gold medals in the finals and state titles. The Titans Women’s Second 8 won the silver medal in an incredibly close finish, while the Women’s First 8 battled hard and claimed bronze. The top boats in the state competed on the Occoquan Reservoir at Sandy Run Regional Park.

As the sun was setting on Saturday, jubilant T. C. rowers returned to the Dee Campbell Rowing Center following the two-part 2017 state championships with a total of five gold medals, three silvers and one bronze. In all, 66 T. C. athletes rowed to the medals dock to claim their prizes.  See related article.  

Most arrived at Sandy Run before dawn on a rainy, chilly, breezy Saturday. It felt like a repeat of the windy, rain-soaked Day 1 of the VASRA Championships the previous weekend. The morning heat racing began to narrow the field of 208 boats from 48 schools for afternoon finals in 30 race categories ranging from junior boats with single rowers to the state’s elite upper 8-seat boats. After the qualifying heats, all five T. C. boats advanced to finals. 

T.C. Women's Double – 2017 State Champs (courtesy photo)

The rain tapered off but headwinds increased for the afternoon as Titan rowers began finals. The Women’s Lightweight Doubles, featuring T. C. seniors Lauren Kelly and Cecelia Fernandez, raced as doubles for only the third time this year.  The Titan duo battled roughly evenly with rowers from Albemarle and West Albemarle down the first three-quarters of the 1500-meter course before raising the stroke rate and slowly taking and holding a determined lead. In the last 200 meters, Kelly and Fernandez dug deep and called on years of conditioning to power their boat to victory with a time of 6:37.9, which was 3.1 seconds ahead of second-place West Albemarle and 5.7 seconds ahead of Albemarle. Their winning time also was 6.5 seconds faster than the winning time in the non-Lightweight Women’s Doubles.

Just before 4:00 p.m., the six fastest Men’s First 4 boats began their run at a state title, with the T. C. Men gaining a lane in the finals following a 13.3-second first place win over Stonebridge in their morning heat. As the rowers sprinted down the first two-thirds of the wind-swept course, the race settled into a two-boat race for first place between the Titans and a talented crew from Mathews. A screaming crowd watched the rowers’ powerful legs and long, strong arms stroke the two boats to an exciting finish, with the T. C. Men pulling hard to clinch the win with a time of 5:47.0, ahead of Mathews’ 5:49.2 finish. Lake Braddock claimed the bronze medal with a time of 6:00.3.

“The Varsity 4 rowed a strong heat and an even better final,” said T. C. Williams Coach Peter Hearding. “They rose to the occasion and put together their best performance of the season to capture the Virginia championship. I'm excited to see what they accomplish in the coming weeks.” 

The T. C. Williams Men’s First 4 includes rowers Connor McGivern, Asher Elkins, Julian Depeyrot and Jacob Souza, and coxswain Michaela Gleeson. They bring the Men’s First 4 State Championship trophy back to T. C. for the third time since 2011, the only school in the state to repeat in this race category during that time period.

The Women’s Second 8 final also became a two-boat battle between T. C. Williams and local rival National Cathedral School; both boats won their morning heats. The Titan Second Varsity 8 brought strength, resilience and esprit-de-corps to a pitched battle with NCS, who they bested by 1.1 seconds two weeks earlier at the Charlie Butt Regatta at Georgetown.  In the end, NCS held on to win by 0.6 second over the Titans, who posted a silver medal time of 6:02.2. Georgetown Visitation finished third for bronze with a time of 6:13.2.

T. C.’s last race of the day was in the premier Women’s First 8 category, following the Titans’ first-place finish in their morning heat. This race also became a struggle between T. C. Williams and rivals NCS and James Madison, who also won their morning heats. As they dashed to a fast finish, NCS held on for the win, followed by James Madison. The Titan Women’s First 8 finished at 5:56.9 to earn bronze and T. C.’s fourth medal of the day.

On May 19-20, T. C. Williams takes eight boats to the prestigious Stotesbury Cup Regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, the largest high school rowing event in the world.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrTweet about this on Twitter