The first eight of the T.C. Williams girls’ crew team had yet to defeat either Madison or National Cathedral School this season. The Titans found no better time to buck that trend than at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association championships on the Occoquan River.

T.C. Williams battled through a tough final that had multiple lead changes among the Titans, Madison and NCS. A late sprint pulled T.C. Williams ahead for good, and it won with a time of 5 minutes 16.80 seconds . Madison was second in 5:18.81, and NCS was third in 5:20.51.

“We came in never beating Madison or NCS,” senior Rosa Procaccino said, “and they had beaten us in past years in the first eight category, so we were hopeful but we weren’t overly confident.”

Describing their winning strategy, senior Katie Pickup said: “Just keeping it in the boat and not focusing on other boats. This week it was all about what’s happening in our boat in that moment.”

Confidence was not something the St. Albans first eight lacked entering Saturday’s regatta, and it almost gave way to an upset. W.T. Woodson kept the race close before ultimately falling to the Bulldogs. St. Albans finished in 4:37.50, with W.T. Woodson following in 4:39.00. T.C. Williams came in third in 4:42.92.

“The expectations I think were high,” St. Albans Coach Ted Haley said. “I think maybe we went into it thinking it would be an easy race, but Woodson put up a good fight, so hats off to them.”

Said St. Albans senior Aris Togias: “It was not our best race. We were actually down at one point, but it’s good to know that we can come back from that. We had an off race, but a good win is a good win.”

The Bulldogs’ seniors had never lost a VASRA championship and had lost only one race on the Occoquan in their high school careers.

“This regatta reminded us that anyone is fair game to win and that we’re just in the middle of the pack,” Togias added, “but that’s a position to do well in.”

Both teams are now poised to look ahead to the Stotesbury Cup in Philadelphia next weekend. Despite a close call on the Occoquan, Haley is pleased with where his team stands.

“We’re in the right position.” Haley said. “We’re in the position to compete with anyone hopefully, and that’s just through hard work and staying focused and fighting through adversity.

“They’re now ready to take on the best from the East Coast, so that’s exciting.”