PHILADELPHIA — As the St. Albans boys’ first eight crossed the finish line Saturday at the Stotesbury Cup, junior Jake Bradt leaped out of his coxswain’s seat and dove into teammate Allister Aaron’s arms. The Bulldogs had pulled a stunner, holding off a pair of national powers to become the first area school in three years to win the showcase event in the oldest and most prestigious regatta in the country, and Bradt understood the moment.

St. Albans put together a perfect race, jumping out to a solid lead before holding off St. Andrews School (Delaware) and St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia) by a full two seconds, navigating the Schuylkill River course in just 4 minutes 7.63 seconds.

“There’s no way that race could have been any better,” Bradt said. “We got off to a great start, a powerful start, our sprint was amazing. It was all just perfect.”

The Bulldogs became the second area school to win here in the past four seasons, following Thomas Jefferson’s win in 2008. Their top boat proved the best from a field that included over 170 high schools from across the country. The victory was hardly expected — a little more than a month ago, they were beaten handily by both St. Andrews and St. Joseph’s. The loss served as motivation for the veterain group, more than its narrow loss a year ago in this same race.

“We were kind of flopping the whole season through,” senior Tip Myers said. “We took that [loss] and drove it deep into our heads and we just piled on the extra work, doing more and more.”

The veteran boat picked the perfect time to put everything together, winning the first Stotesbury Cup in school history.

“We thought we could get maybe two seats, but honestly, we didn’t believe it,” Aaron said. “It really came down to we believed in each other, we wanted this. We’d never done this before, but we did it. It’s the best race of our lives.”

The win was an emotional one for Coach Ted Haley.

“Its just a flood of relief,” he said. “We’ve been working real hard over the past four years. A lot of seconds, couple thirds, but we’d never had a gold. Now we have one and its amazing. . . . It’s the greatest St. Albans event I’ve ever been a part of.”

Bethesda-Chevy Chase finished fifth, crossing in 4:18.88.

In the girls’ final eight, Madison finished fourth, just out of the medals. It was their first loss of the season.