By Allen Nitschelm
The state public school championship rowing races were held on the Merrimac River in Lowell last Sunday, May 25th, with the Bromfield-Acton-Boxborough (BAB) rowers performing very well in their final event of the Spring season, bringing home six team gold medals, two silvers, and three bronzes out of 14 events entered.
“It was an outstanding day for the team. I am so proud of the fact that our rowers have the versatility to be able to jump in to sculling boats and dominant the field. This is something you don't see with most high school teams,” said Head Coach Holly Hatten, who also coaches the Girls Varsity team.
Unlike typical regattas, the state championships allow rowers to only enter a limited number of events. This allows the regatta to be completed in a single day.
In a final race, there is a maximum of six boats entered, and the winners are determined by their order across the finish line, not their time. The head-to-head competition eliminates variables such as current, wind, or choppiness that can affect race times over the course of the day.
So with only six entrants, the Boys First Varsity Four (B4x) raced in a final event at 8 am, coming in second place with a time of 4:58.7, less than a second behind Row Boston and 10 seconds ahead of the third-place team. That wonderful start would herald the rest of the day for the team. Most of the larger events would have heats in the morning and finals in the afternoon. Silver medallists were A.J. Higgins, Andrew Borghesani, Justin Hayes, and Kyle Hayes.
In the fifth event of the morning, another final for the boys’ scullers, the BAB Boys Varsity Two won, with a time of 5:14.75, two seconds ahead of second-place Mystic Valley, a charter-school crew team from Malden. Gold medallists for Bromfield were Jake Turchetta and Luca Basile.
Bromfield then won a blowout race in the sixth event, the Girls Varsity Two sculling finals, with Kirsten Thiim and Panna Rasania winning gold over Row Boston by over 20 seconds, with a winning time of 6:01.44.
The seventh event, another sculling final, was also won by BAB. Charles Watt was the singler sculler winning in 5:34, another 20-second victory, this time over the racer from the Arlington-Belmont team.
Event eight was the single-rower Girls sculling final, with Bromfield rowers Molly Hart and Sylvia Sarnik placing first and third, respectively.
All sculling events were finished by 9 am, with BAB collecting four golds, one silver, and one bronze, out of seven races entered. As a result of scoring the highest number of points in sculling events, Bromfield Acton-Boxborough was awarded the team sculling trophy.
"Considering how little sculling we did this year, I'm thrilled with their racing. They love the chance to go race the small boats. They get very competitive about it in practice. For us to win the State Sculling trophy despite a lot of practice shows just how competitive they can be,” said Boys Varsity Coach Pat Scott.
After a brief break, the coxswained races began with preliminary heats. Crews compete in the morning to qualify for the finals that afternoon. These were all “sweep” races with rowers only pulling on one oar each.
The heats to determine who made the finals were held from 9 am to 3 pm, and then the larger boats competed to determine the state champions.
The Girls First Varsity and Second Varsity Eights had very strong performances in the morning, winning their heats. Coach Hatton was particularly pleased to see how much they had improved in the past few weeks. "They had really come together as crews. One of my top goals for each rower/coxswain is to be highly skilled in the rowing stroke. I believe if you learn to row well, you can row anywhere, with any crew,” she said.
The first race in the afternoon finals with a Bromfield team was the Girls Second Novice Eight, another golden victory for the eight novice girls rowers in the second-tier boats, winning with a time of 5:32.05 with open water, a seven-second win over Wayland-Weston. Girls Second Novice Eight state champions are Cox Samantha Lee and rowers Kati Nugent, Tess Fairchild, Izze Ambrosoli, Becky Nitschelm, Alexi Li, Courtney Robb, Alexis Smith, and Anne Wesley.
The Girls First Novice Eight would not let their teammates bask in glory alone, as they also dominated their final race, winning with a time of 5:17.03, again with open water on the competition for a six-second victory over second-placed Arlington-Belmont. The BAB top Novice crew was coxed by Grace Heavey with rowers Kamryn Stecyk, Amanda Accorsi, Caroline Noyes, Jordan Werst, Coco DeFrancesco, Claudia Weaver, Olivia Hemond, and Rachel Foote.
All 16 novice girl rowers took home gold medals for Bromfield AB. "The greatest ‘treat’ of the day for me was to see the Girls Novice crews dominate their respective events. I was giddy thinking about the impact they will make on next year’s varsity," said coach Hatten. Coaches Julie Nocka and Nancy Young lead the Novice Girls squad.
Event 15 was the final of the Boys Novice Four which came in third in the finals, seven seconds off the pace. Coach Pete Petersen leads the Boys Novice rowers.
Bromfield had no more entries until Event 23, the Boys Second Varsity Eight, which was delayed about two hours due to thunderstorms appearing near the starting line at about 4 pm, with the Boys boat coming in sixth in the finals.
The Girls Second Varsity Eight also finished just outside the money, finishing fourth in the finals.
The marquee events of the day were saved for last. Because of the thunderstorm delay, all of the consolation (petite) finals were cancelled
In Event 27, the Boys First Varsity Eight, Bromfield did very well, coming in third in the state with a time of 4:26.3, four seconds behind the winning boat from Brookline. Bronze medallists were coxswain Anya Plucinsky, A.J. Higgins, Kyle Hayes, Andrew Borghesani, Charles Watt, Luca Basile, Cole Winsor, Justin Hayes, and Liam Mackin.
"With this being my last trip to States with the team, I really wanted to send the guys home with some hardware. Considering how hard they work for me, I owed it to them to make sure the training would put them on the medals podium. I wish I could have done more for the Second and Third Varsity guys, but they were happy with their racing and that's all that matters," said coach Scott.
The final event for the Bromfield crew was the Girls First Varsity Eight, but the race was cancelled because of weather, so the times in the heats were used to determine the overall winners. This decision earned Bromfield the silver medal, just one second off the winning time by Wayland-Weston.
“It was a bit disappointing that the Girls First Varsity Eight didn't have a chance to go head-to-head with their arch rivals Wayland-Weston in the finals. This race was canceled due to an approaching thunderstorm,” said Coach Hatten.
As one of the region’s smaller clubs, Bromfield rowing does not have enough competitors to compete in every race, but ended up with a very successful finish for its Spring season. Bromfield AB rowers individually earned 22 gold medals, 12 silvers, and 13 bronze medals.
Next weekend, the team will host a fundraiser on Harvard town common, its first annual Ergathon. For more information or to support the team, visit www.BareHillRowing.com/ergathon.