Last year's National Capital Area Scholastic Rowing Association Regatta had a sense of mystery. It was the first chance many D.C. and Virginia crews had to scope each other out before the Stotesbury Cup Regatta and the national championships that would follow.
But this year, with the Stotesbury Regatta already completed, the verdict already was in and the pressure was on last week's finalists to repeat their performances. Only this time they had to do it at the NCASRA championships with everyone in the Washington area striving to dethrone the champs.
Jefferson's varsity boys' eight, which last week became the first area crew to win the senior eight gold at Stotesbury since 1969, had the biggest mark on its back, along with Stotesbury lightweight boys' eight gold medalist Washington-Lee. But challengers will have to wait until next year to do any dethroning. Both boats repeated their gold medal performances.
Jefferson's varsity boys won in 4 minutes 24.20 seconds on the Occoquan Reservoir, ahead of St. Albans (4:27.10) and West Springfield (4:28.70), giving the Colonials their third championship in as many races.
"You win a race like [Stotesbury] and you have a marker on your back," boys' coach Jim Granger said. "It takes a lot of work to keep going where we were last weekend."
St. Albans got as close to Jefferson as any local crew has this year, crossing the line three seconds behind the Colonials, a finish St. Albans Coach Ted Haley called a "real treat."
Washington-Lee's lightweight boys' eight victory was narrow as well. It finished in 4:28.70, two seconds ahead of Stotesbury bronze medalist Bethesda-Chevy Chase (4:30.00) and Yorktown (4:35.70).
"They really wanted to prove [Stotesbury] wasn't a fluke," lightweight coach Ken Quail said. "It was a heck of a way to end the season."
The pressure was different for the other gold medallists yesterday, who saw the NCASRA Championships as a chance to redeem disappointing performances last week. Jefferson's girls' varsity eight, hungry from a sixth-place finish at Stotesbury, took gold in 5:05.30, ahead of Washington-Lee and Sidwell Friends.
"There are a lot of people there pushing to keep up with Jefferson and it pushes us to work hard to stay ahead," Jefferson coxswain Annalise Herring said.
Like Jefferson, T.C. Williams couldn't help but be disappointed with its performance at Stotesbury. But the girls turned in a gold medal performance that senior Sarah Ball called redeeming, finishing in 5:11.00, narrowly beating McLean (5:13.00) and Woodbridge (5:24.00).
Jefferson's girls' second eight also won, in 5:31.20, ahead of B-CC and T.C. Williams. The Colonials finished second last week to B-CC. Gonzaga's boys' second eight, a boat that finished third at Stotesbury, took gold in 4:49.20, ahead of St. Albans and Jefferson.
West Potomac's boys' varsity four had its last chance to catch Matthews, a boat they have yet to beat this season. It didn't knock off the champs but it did finish second (4:57.30) and shaved time off its finish last year.
"Coming back from missing the podium at Stotesbury really motivated these kids," Coach Brendan Crotty said.
"It takes a lot of focus to place second at NCASRAs and we'll certainly take it."