The Forest Park crew program didn't have any boats in the finals at the 78th annual Stotesbury Regatta, but the Bruins still had reason to celebrate when the races wrapped up on Philadelphia's Schuylkill River on Saturday.
Five Virginia boats did medal, providing both a challenge and an inspiration for the Bruins and other Prince William schools that practice and race on the Occoquan.
"It was good to see how many schools on the Occoquan are successful at Stotes because we race them, and if we can hold with them when we race every weekend, we can hold it against everyone else," Forest Park Coach Heather Cox said.
Jefferson and Washington-Lee took the biggest hardware back to Virginia, winning the boys' senior eight and boys' lightweight eight, respectively.
Jefferson's win marked the first time since 1969 that a Washington area school won a boys' senior eight event, and Washington-Lee's win was the program's first gold at Stotesbury since 1990.
Forest Park made some history of its own when the girls' lightweight four became the first boat in the program's four years to make it past the first round of timed trials to the semifinal races.
The boat eventually placed fifth in the six-boat race in a time of 6 minutes 47.19 seconds and did not advance to the finals. Still, Cox said, the showing proved Forest Park's young program was headed in the right direction.
"The competition shows each year that we are raising the bar and meeting that standard," she said. "Now that we've done it once, we will come to expect it from our rowers."
Next weekend's National Capital Area Scholastic Rowing Association championships on the Occoquan will be the last race of the season for the Bruins and last high school race for seniors Liz O'Neil and Emma Wimberley. And with some renewed confidence from an impressive Stotesbury, the Bruins are looking to improve on their performance at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Championships on May 8, when Forest Park finished third behind Woodson and Gar-Field.
"They are excited to come home and go against Gar-Field and excited to see what two more weeks of practice will do to their times," Cox said. "They were pleased but not satisfied with their performance at Stotes, and now it will all be on the line."
Forest Park also entered a boys' lightweight eight and a girls' senior eight at Stotesbury, though neither team advanced past Friday's timed trials. The boys placed 17th in an 18-boat field with a time of 5:04.79 seconds; the girls placed 38th out of 42 boats in 5:48.07 seconds.
Vikings' Last Stand
The NCASRA championships also offer Woodbridge's senior four boat a last chance to try to catch West Potomac and Tidewater school Mathews. It is a daunting task: Mathews took gold in the senior four at Stotesbury, and West Potomac finished fourth. Woodbridge did not advance past the semifinals, in which the Vikings finished third in their heat in 5:19.40 seconds.
The all-senior boat is led by Joe McMullen, who will row at the University of Wisconsin next year. He and his teammates will try to give head coach Tom Moulen a medal in his last year with Woodbridge. But if there is no medal, Moulen said, the boat still has left an impression.
"The nice thing about the smaller group is there is more camaraderie and a stronger bond," he said. "It has been a very enjoyable, very relaxed season."
Woodbridge will welcome back a strong junior four next season that placed 33rd in its timed trial at Stotesbury (5:23.69). The Vikings entered five other boats at Stotesbury, with only the girls' lightweight eight making it to the semifinals. That boat finished sixth in a six-boat heat in 6:28.18. The boys' junior quad (20th), boys' lightweight four (37th), girls' senior eight (34th) and girls' second eight (21st) did not advance past the timed trials.
Hylton Boys Take Fifth
Hylton entered five boats, and the girls' junior eight and boys' junior quad turned in the best showings. The boys finished fifth in their semifinal in 4:41.31, and the girls placed sixth in 6:08.38.
Single sculler Matthew Hinz also made the semifinals, finishing sixth in 6:27.17 seconds. The girls' senior quad (seventh) and lightweight four (34th) and the boys' lightweight four (38th) did not advance past the timed trials.