There wasn’t much to say in the minutes before Gonzaga and St. Albans’ first varsity eight crews set out on the Anacostia River for the 14th annual Foley Cup. There was a buzz in the muggy air. Both teams understood the magnitude of the moment, and so they warmed up and prepared in pulsating, systematic silence.

The finish was less exhilarating, with the Eagles picking up a comfortable win in four minutes, 33 seconds to St. Albans’ time of 4:35.8. It not only gave Gonzaga an 8-6 all-time series lead but, more importantly, bragging rights with the Stotesbury Cup less than two weeks away.

“St. Albans is an incredible crew that’s given us a run for our money the last few years,” Eagles senior Richard Hrdy said. “It’s always really interesting to see how thinks shake up.”

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Gonzaga Coach Marc Mandel was quick to caution his team from getting too high from the win. He said the Eagles have sometimes benefited more long-term in losing years, with defeat forcing the team to more closely examine its flaws.

That’ll be a luxury afforded to the Bulldogs this year. With Hugh Jia and Nathan Manrique anchoring the team’s top boat, St. Albans lost by about a full length.

That being said, this year’s iteration of the regatta had its share of unpredictable elements. Originally supposed to be held on the Potomac River, St. Albans’ home, it was moved to Gonzaga’s home after a heavy rain flooded the Potomac on Friday.

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But neither crew was ready to make excuses. Both upped their level of intensity in practice leading up to the head-to-head race.

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“You know you’re racing a program that’s really well coached and has great athletes and that drives preparation,” Mandel said. “We don’t have to dwell on it. There’s pride involved … There was a real focused and motivated period going into it.”

While the first varsity eight was the main attraction, it wasn’t the only dual between the programs. Gonzaga also picked up a win in the second varsity eight with a time of 4:46.0, and its “A” and “B” varsity four boats finished faster than St. Albans’ crew.

Both program’s sister schools were out on the Anacostia, too, for the Carr Cup. National Cathedral’s first varsity eight recorded a 5:13.2 to Georgetown Visitation’s 5:33.4. National Cathedral earned first place in the category at last year’s Stotesbury, a feat it’ll hope to repeat when the nation’s top scholastic programs convene on the Schuylkill River on May 19-20.

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