A lot was on the line on Lake Wononpakook this past weekend when Berkshire hosted Dexter, Hopkins and Canterbury. 1st boat looked to avenge their loss to Dexter just one week before, 2nd boat looked to solidify their seeding for New Englands, and 3rd and 4th boat both needed a win to avoid dropping out of contention for championships. To top it all off, there was a new boat in the boathouse that had its christening just before the races. It was a busy day for Berkshire boys’ crew.
On the water, the lower boats took on a Canterbury 4th boat that had edged out the Berkshire 6th boat just Wednesday. The new combination of Gerry Gimenez-Valdes, Rad Savage, Devon Kessler, Sasha Podolsky, and Sam Rusoff as coxswain, was up for the challenge of flipping that result. It didn’t look good off the start though, as Canterbury took a boat length lead and held it to the 800 meter mark, just past halfway. The rowers weren’t about to give up though, and as they began to gel and row together, they began to eat up Canterbury’s lead. With 400m to go, they passed the boys from Canterbury and did not look back, finishing 8 seconds ahead in a time of 6:06. Meanwhile, the 5th boat did what it has done all year, which is get ahead and stay ahead. Will McClarence, Alex Dechellis, James Donovoan and Jake McLanahan were up on Canterbury off the start and kept pressing to increase the margin. They finished in a respectable time of 5:56, almost twenty seconds ahead of Canterbury’s 4th boat.
In the 4th boat race Jake Elowitz, Colin Fuss, Austin Hovey, Derrick Burt and Ben Lang didn’t have the Berkshire 5th boat pushing them like last week, but still managed to put together one of their best pieces of rowing this year. Dexter was left behind almost immediately off the start, as the 4th boat rocketed away. Once comfortably up, the 4th boat thought only of New Englands, when the competition will be blisteringly fast, so they kept the pedal to the floor to finish over 40 seconds, an immense margin in rowing commonly called a time zone, ahead of the Dexter crew.
After likely securing at least the 12 seed for New Englands on Wednesday, the 3rd boat knew they had to continue to impress the seeding committee to hold on to that last qualifying spot. Always up for a challenge, the crew of W. Chattin Wetherill trophy winner Eric Smith, Pedro Escobar, John Leasure, Max Beauroyre-Hofmann and coxswain Sam Rusoff was determined to increase the 23 second margin they’d had over Dexter the previous week. With a great start, Dexter held contact for a few hundred meters, but the third boat found another gear when they took a power 20, and quickly moved away to an insurmountable lead. At the 1000 meter mark the boys from Berkshire had the win secure, but as has become their signature, they do not quit until the flag drops at the finish. With spectators mistakenly identifying them as the first boat, they came to the finish in a time of 5:16.0, a full 30 seconds ahead of Dexter and another impressive win for Berkshire.
The on paper, the varsity races looked to be the tightest of the day, with 5 to 6 second margins of victory the previous week. In their new vessel however, the 2nd boat was not going to be complacent with simply defeating Dexter and Canterbury; they wanted to impress. In her first race as the Osprey, the 2nd boat had easily their sharpest race of the year. Peter Dunn, Roy Faigenbaum, Richie Riegel, Sam Friedman and coxswain Josiah Tolvo were marginally ahead after 500 meters. Then, according to plan, they took a power twenty to create separation, and separate they did, moving out to an open water lead. Moving together more than any other race this year, the second boat came across the line in 5:17.6 seconds, their best time of the year and nearly 12 seconds ahead of the closest competition.
After last week’s demoralizing loss to Dexter, the 1st boat had a fire under them all week, defeating a highly seeded New England crew in Gunnery on Wednesday, and they were ready to avenge their loss, only one week removed. With a 5 second margin to make up, Dylan O’Connor, Will Knight, Juan Escobar, Lars Robinson and Nick Asaro blew off the line with one of their best starts of the year, looking to decide the race early. Dexter was not so easily discouraged though and pulled back to almost even after 400 meters. Berkshire knew they needed a win to convince the seeding committee that Wednesday was no fluke though, so they dug deep and started pushing themselves away from Dexter, with Canterbury and Hopkins fading behind. As the crews came to the line, Berkshire was up on the other crews and the race was with the clock. 5 minutes for 1500 meters is a landmark time for a high school boys’ four. If you go faster than 5 minutes, you can call yourself fast without hesitation. Berkshire had not broken 5 minutes yet this season, but they’d put themselves in position as they approached the finish line, parents and friends cheering, the clock ticking 4:57…58…59, until the flag dropped and a new season best time of 4:59.4 was set and the sweep of Dexter, Canterbury and Hopkins complete.
After all the boats were off the water, spirits were high and the winning coxswains all got the traditional toss in the lake. With these wins, Berkshire boys’ crew should qualify boats at all four levels for New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Championships in Worcester next Saturday.