Charlie Butt's crew teams at Washington-Lee won 10 gold medals in 13 years in the boys' senior eight final at the prestigious Stotesbury Regatta on the Schuylkill River. But since that school's last win in 1969, no Washington area crew could keep the tradition alive. That all changed Saturday when Jefferson's victory at the 78th annual race brought back the Edward T. Stotesbury Cup.
Jefferson's senior eight boat upset Saint Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia) to win the 1,500-meter race in 4 minutes 39.78 seconds. St. Joe's finished second in 4:44.42, ahead of third-place Chaminade (4:46.53).
"It's great to go back [to D.C.] having accomplished a goal we set for ourselves four years ago," Jefferson boys' coach Jim Granger said. "To compete against schools we've been chasing and for us to break out and win a race like this is great for our program and our league back home."
The win in the boys' senior eight is not the only reason Butt, who died in 1991, would have been smiling on this day. Washington-Lee, the program he founded, also claimed a gold in the boys' lightweight eight.
After a string of mishaps, including a broken cox box, the device that allows the rowers to hear the instructions from the coxswain, during the semifinals and a lost pair of shoes by Tyler Buxton in the final, Washington-Lee cruised to a narrow finish in 4:49.7 to beat St. Joe's (4:52.33), the team that had won the event the past six years. Washington area rival Bethesda-Chevy Chase (4:53.18), the team W-L Coach Ken Quail coached last year, finished third.
"My old coach used to say, 'One bad thing is going to happen to you in each race, then you can go on and win it,' " Quail said. "But bad this really did happen."
The win marked the school's first goal medal at Stotesbury since 1990, the last year Butt coached the team. After Butt's death, the program declined but has shown a resurgence this year with the success of the lightweight and the junior four, which took third in its final in 5:20.45.
The B-CC girls' second eight's gold medal rounded out the first-place finishes for the Washington area. They finished in 5:39.83, ahead of second-place Jefferson (5:43.82) and third-place National Cathedral School (5:47.49). Whitman finished fifth in 6:59.
The St. Albans boys' lightweight four won a silver for the second consecutive year, beating Upper Canada in 5:23.52. The Jefferson boys' freshman eight, the Whitman girls' freshman eight and the Gonzaga boys' second eight won bronze medals. McLean senior Caroline Berson earned a bronze medal in the girls' senior single.