The members of National Cathedral’s girls’ first varsity eight crew pulled their victorious boat out of the Occoquan River, pushed it overhead and rested it on their shoulders. Barefoot and exhausted, they trudged forward.

It was the final challenge Saturday for the winning crew at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Championships at Sandy Run Regional Park in Fairfax Station, and they strode in unison as water trickled down the side of the boat. Finally, they set it down on the boat rack and traded hugs.

The win marked National Cathedral’s second straight VSRC title, this time finishing in five minutes, 48.1 seconds. Madison took second in 5:53.8, with T.C. Williams close behind in a time of 5:56.9.

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“Part of the reason why we consistently do well as a team is because we trust each other. There’s a lot of interdependence,” senior Serena Irwin said. “And I know that everybody behind me is going to be pulling really hard.”

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That trust was on display even before the race started. Junior Amelia Parizek was “freaking out” before the race began, shaking in the boat as she waited for the start. That was when Irwin slapped her teammate’s back and steadied her.

It proved enough of a calming force for Parizek, who helped the crew to a comfortable win. Both Parizek and Irwin expressed excitement for increased competition next weekend at the Stotesbury Cup.

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“It’s definitely good to have a win before our biggest race, so we’re confident going into it,” Irwin said. “But I think we’re still ready to work hard this week and stay on track, because there’s going to be lots of fast teams there.”

It was a sentiment shared by St. Albans, the brother school of National Cathedral. The Bulldogs’ boys’ first varsity eight also took home the top prize Saturday, in a time of 5:01.8. McLean was the next fastest boat in 5:09.4, with Woodson rounding out the top three in a time of 5:11.6.

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For St. Albans, winners of eight straight VSRC titles, it was business as usual.

“There’s pressure, but it’s more of an expectation now,” senior Henry Plaster said, the Bulldogs’ trophy and plaque resting in the boat behind him. “Our goal is always to win.”

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The easy victory was validation for a crew still hurting from last weekend’s loss to Gonzaga in the 14th annual Foley Cup. Plaster said the team practiced twice a day this past week, feeding on the loss as motivation.

During the Bulldogs’ big push of the 1,500 meter race, Plaster shouted, “Show Gonzaga we’re coming for them!”

“We want them to look out,” he said later. “We’re coming for them at Stotesbury.”

In other action, T.C. Williams took first in the boys’ varsity four with a time of 5:47. West Springfield came out on top in the girls’ varsity four final, finishing in 6:35. West Potomac (6:45.9) took second, and Langley (6:47.3) was third.

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