Their boat is named Nessuna Resa -- Italian for "no surrender" -- and the Jefferson High girls' varsity eight showed why yesterday afternoon at the Walter L. Mess regatta on the Occoquan River.
The Colonials took first place by six seconds over second-place Woodbridge on the first weekend of the Washington area's high school rowing season, crossing the finish line in 3 minutes 31.20 seconds. Yesterday's races were shortened from the standard 1,500 meters to 1,000 meters because of debris on the river from recent inclement weather.
"That's the way we go about it," said senior fourth-seat Meagan Spooner, explaining how her team's attitude mirrors the boat's name. "It just takes determination, dedication and mental toughness."
The Jefferson girls' varsity eight did not make the finals of the Virginia state championships a year ago, and Spooner said the crew has worked hard in twice-daily preseason practices -- even getting in workouts before school -- with hopes of turning things around this season.
"We didn't have a very good finish to our season last year, which is partially why we're so determined this year," Spooner said. "We want to make a statement."
Jefferson swept the varsity eight races, with the boys' crew winning in dramatic fashion. The Colonials trailed West Springfield by a few meters approaching the finish line, but surged in the concluding sprint to win by seven-tenths of a second, 3:05 to the Spartans' 3:05.7.
The coxswain "was telling us that West Springfield was one seat ahead of us, and to bring it up," senior bow seat Pierce Umberger said. "We just went for it, nothing to lose. That was just an all-out sprint."
Half of the Jefferson boys' crew that won at last year's state championship, and the new crew finished second to West Springfield in a heat yesterday. But the Colonials turned the result around in the final.
"I don't want to blame it totally on the water, but there was a huge wake that came over our bow," West Springfield senior Jon Butterfield said. "It's just what happened, and we're just hoping to try and come back and get them next week."
In the boys' varsity four, Gar-Field was the best area finisher, taking fifth in 4:06.38. Mathews -- located just north of Tidewater -- captured first in 3:36.
Gloucester, also from the area north of Tidewater, won the girls' varsity four (4:01.9), with Potomac (Va.) finishing third in 4:23.4 and Fairfax taking fifth in 4:34.9.
The lightweight eight and third eight boats were combined into a single race, with the Jefferson girls' "A" crew winning over five others in 3:36.1. West Springfield's boys won by 12 seconds (3:13 to 3:25) over Jefferson.