The News Page: STOTESBURY 5/20/06

By David Greenspan_________________________________________________________

The Stotesbury Cup Regatta is the largest regatta in North America, and I have heard it is the largest High School athletic contest anywhere based on the total number of participants. LM had its best showing in a number of years. Big head races on Friday defined the qualifiers for the heats that put boats into the finals. Head races can be marred by rapidly changing conditions, and this Friday was one of those days. Gusting winds were strong but variable. Times would be influenced by when you were out on the course. LM put 4 boats into the qualifying heats from the head races.

The Frosh Men's 8 came in 21 of 39. The Men's JV4 settled for 34 of 53. And the Men's Varsity Heavy 4 36 of 58. All 8 of these upperclassmen could be returning next year as none of them are seniors. Combined with the Frosh 8 and Frosh 4 that couldn't race at Stotesbury, there is alot of potential to build on. Hard work over the next 12 months, whether it be with a summer rowing program, some ergometer workouts, going to camp and playing hard, fall and winter sports at LM, or whatever and the season could be another great one building on the successes of this year. The Men's VL4 came in 15th of 42 in their head race a full 16 seconds out of first. This gave them lane 1 in their heat at around 9:00 on Saturday. They felt they had a terrible row, and this placement surely didn't come close to measuring up to their usual performance. Belleville had the third fastest time that day, a crew LM beat just the week before. Was it the jitters? Was it the variable conditions? Was it just one of those things that happen to teams? Hard to say. But if this head race was any indication of what was to come, the glorious season for the only men LM was putting into the heats didn't look like it was going to continue.

The Frosh women matched the men's frosh performance, coming in 25th of 42. The first qualifier of the day for LM was the JV women. Coming in 14th out of 31, Kajsa and her 8 plowed into the heats to row in lane 1 starting at 8:00 am on Saturday morning. Following the JV 8, the Women's VL4 followed suit. They came in 18th out of 37, to row in the infamous lane 6 in their heat. Lane 6 is so credited but many a crew has won from that lane, including the St. Joe's Prep varsity Men's 8 just last year. Finally, the Women's V4 came in 10th of 49, the best of any LM crew a mere 4 seconds out of the top 6. That would put them in lane 5, racing against the number 3,4,and 9th place finishers, needing to be in the top two to qualify on Saturday.

Saturday was a bit more pleasant, but remained very gusty and unpredictable. With the time trials behind them, the crews would now be competing 6 across, 2 to qualify for the finals. It was do or go home. The WJV8 started the day with heat number two. Based on their head race performance, they should have finished 5th, and did so 5 seconds back behind Belleville. The ladies looked strong coming by the tent. Based on their performance this year, they are heading to the Nationals next week. An added week of style work, can make all the difference in the timing of an 8 that has only raced together since the City Championships. The ladies Varsity Lightweight 4 should have finished last in their race based on their qualifier. Instead, they took lane 6 to 5th a mere 3 seconds behind 4th place shipley. Though their season is done, there are plenty of lightweights from the JV and Frosh 8's to make for a very dynamic lightweight program next year.

The Women's Varsity 4 were in a dog fight for second the entire way down the river. They came through the bridge in third, a close 4th, but clearly moved on St. Paul's and Greenwich. But it was St. Paul's that was out in front to stay and the back and forth was between Greenwich and LM. By the half, the number 9 qualifier Oakcrest, and the other two boats from Hun and Great Bridge weren't even factors. By the middle of the island, it looked like Greenwich was out a couple of seats and evidently was out to stay, with LM missing the finals by 1.2 seconds. Based on heat times, LM's third place finish could have put them into the top two in either of the other heats. If they remained 5 seconds behind St. Paul's, they might have been able to take 3rd in the finals. But these are all 'ifs', (for instance, Greenwich that nipped them at the finish came in 6th in the finals, so...) But this is the life of rowing, and the heats system, as fair is it can be, can be cruel as well. The Ladies have another shot at some of these crews in Sarotoga next week. So be sure to come on out and support them!

The Men's Varsity Lightweight 4 was feeling alot better about their chances going into their morning heat than they had felt at the end of their race on Friday. The top crew in their heat was Belleville, and an unknown from Saratoga. St. Joes was there, but they had been beaten before. And Lane 1 could be a blessing, too far for the crews in lane 3,4,5 to really notice. By rights, they should have come in 5th. According to Steve, they had a good start and a 'wicked second 500' and put the race away there. Coming in first was a huge victory, as it put them in the Stotesbury finals! How cool is that? I will say that preceeding this race was a heat not that different than the one our Ladies rowed in. Favorites based on Friday time Gov. Simcoe was nipped at the line by EL Crossley (last year's winner) and our friends Christian Brother's who all collapsed back down into the boat as soon as they crossed the line in second. Coming all the way from Canada to race two of the fastest boats on the water (and Father Judge, no slouch either) to come up empty must have been a huge disappointment for Gov Simcoe.

The final's was a heck of a row. 4 boats entered the finals rowing their heats within 1.5 seconds of each other. Only lane 5 had a time that was back another couple behind Belleville that was only back a couple itself. For much of the way down, LM and Nichols were 2 and 1 respectively. I haven't gotten the boat's impression of their row, but Aaron's perspective was that they had a really fine piece and just didn't have the gas to hold off EL Crossley in the last 100 meters. To me, it looked like the got hung up in a gust as they tried their final sprint and lost ground. Nichols was not going to be beat on this day. They finished in 5:13.07 with Crossley 5:15.42, LM 5:15.95, Christian Brothers 5:16.16, Belleville 5:17.97 and St. Francis 5:29. I would note that the LM time was faster than their winning time this morning despite considerably more headwind.

A Bronze medal, what a way to go. That is 3rd of 42 boats, a total of 210 competitors. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

LM has 3 boats going to Saratoga. I will be there, and will report back as soon as there is news. For now, if you are interested in looking over the results of the 2006 Stotesbury in more detail, you can do so by clicking here.

Women's V4 Heats, LM in lane 5 (second from right)!