As the Bethesda-Chevy Chase boys’ varsity eight team rowed back to the dock after its victory at the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Rowing Association championships Sunday, Coach Dan Engler had a message.
“We’re eating fried chicken tonight,” he shouted to his grinning rowers.
The Barons had just won for the third consecutive year at the WMIRA championships, finishing in 4 minutes 12.5 seconds, and they were ready to celebrate on a rainy afternoon. Engler hugged each of his rowers as they exited their boat at Thompson Boat Center in Northwest Washington.
“It hurt a lot, but it was kind of counteractive,” junior Jake Danegger said. “We were all really excited.”
Bethesda-Chevy Chase defeated Whitman (4:13.9), Gonzaga (4:18.3) and St. Albans (4:20) in the final.
Senior Billy Leclerc said the Barons thrive at the start of competitions, and they used the opening of the approximately 1,500-meter race to jump ahead.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase beat Whitman by about two seconds last week at the Maryland and Delaware rowing championships, and the Barons again held off their Montgomery County foe. Some Bethesda-Chevy Chase rowers waved their white hats after crossing the finish.
Gonzaga was the area’s top finisher at last year’s Stotesbury Cup in Philadelphia, and Bethesda-Chevy Chase didn’t qualify for the final. The Barons will hope for better results at the largest high school regatta later this month.
“It’s pretty much all that’s on my mind right now,” Leclerc said. “We want to get out there and just win Stotesbury.”
The Whitman girls’ varsity eight also won for the third consecutive year after getting the better of Bethesda-Chevy Chase. Eight days ago, the Vikings fell to Bethesda-Chevy Chase at the Maryland and Delaware championships.
“That lit a fire in my kids,” Whitman Coach Kirk Shipley said.
Whitman worked on improving in the middle of races, and at the 500-meter mark Sunday, the Vikings pulled ahead for a 4:47.3 finish. Bethesda-Chevy Chase clocked in at 4:51.9; Wilson (4:57.4) and National Cathedral (4:58.6) rounded out the field.
Whitman placed third at the Stotesbury Cup last year, two spots behind first-place National Cathedral. The Vikings’ seniors have dreamed of winning that title since they were freshmen.
“You think about it basically the entire season,” senior Leia Till said. “We started thinking about it last year just because last year our last race wasn’t our best.”
Earlier Sunday, Walter Johnson (5:01.4) won the boys’ varsity four ahead of O’Connell (5:08.1). O’Connell claimed the girls’ varsity four title in 5:30.4, with Holton-Arms (5:37.3) second.