Tuesday, May 28, 2013

McQuaid's Varsity 4A at the 2013 Pittsford Regatta

At the finish line for the semi-final against Albany. (5/26/13)
This past Memorial Day weekend was my stepson's last scholastic regatta for McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, New York. (McQuaid Crew is sponsored by Friends of Scholastic Crew (FoSC).) Last year one of the boat's in which Greg rowed did make it to Nationals, but this year things did not come together as well. While it would have been preferable to have qualified to row in the Scholastic Rowing Association of America National Championship Regatta in Camden, New Jersey, it was great to have the team competing locally. Both the fall and spring seasons concluded on the Erie Canal at Pittsford Regattas, and this final season would be no different. On Saturday Gregory rowed in a the McQuaid Varsity 8A, making it to semifinals, and failing to medal.

Rowing down to the start line of the 1100 meter Erie Canal course. (5/26/13)
Unable to attend the Saturday races, I made a point of being at the Sunday portion. Sunday's races would find boys competing in "fours" and girls in "eights," the opposite of previous day's races. As a spectator sport, spring crew is generally more interesting than fall season as following the first round of time trials, all the semis and finals are head-to-head. The teams participating this year were very strong, especially a resurgent boys program from the neighboring canal town of Fairport.

The Erie Canal is fairly narrow at points, so boats had to be careful when heading to
the start, as well as when competing. (5/26/13)
The Varsity 4A, consisting of Greg, seniors Cameron Pizzo, Andrew Dardaris, and underclassman Steven Gerringer, had to accept a challenging task if they were to make it to finals this year. In addition to host Pittsford, and the aforementioned Fairport club, teams from Albany, Cascadilla and Brighton, among others, were in attendance.

McQuaid Varsity coxswain Grant Gifford during time trials. (5/26/13)
Racing to a third place finish in the time trial (5/26/13)

Finishing the trials in great position (5/26/13)
The boat got off to a strong start placing third overall, behind Albany (4:23.94) and Fairport (4:21.34), with a time of 4:25.01. The race launched shortly before 8:30 a.m. and went of just before 9:00 a.m. One of the challenges of rowing is the long periods between races. Thought he time does allow for some recovery time, psychologically, it can seem like quite a bit of time to wait to get at it again. After getting the boat out of the water, there is little else for the student-athletes to do than commiserate with one another and maybe grab a light snack before the next race. One always hopes there is a "next race" as that suggest that things went well. Some teams/boats are done after the trial, which is a disappointment for spectators and student-athletes, many of whom have been waiting around since the early morning hours of the day to compete.

Carrying the boat back following the trials. (5/26/13)
Heading out for the semifinals race with Albany. (5/26/13)
The semifinals featured the first head-to-head competition of the day for our Varsity Boys 4A boat, a race in which they drew a strong Albany team. The semifinals use the trial times to seed the semifinals so: #1 races #4, and #2 (Albany) rows against #4, McQuaid. If both were to "row to their seed," McQuaid would be done for the day and Albany would move on to head-to-head racing against #1 Faiport. In what was a tremendous race, the McQuaid boat defied the teams pattern of  performance for the meet (running even until the last 20 meters, then being passed by stronger boats) and nosed out Albany for the win. As you can see in the picture at the top of the post, the win was a close one. McQuaid's boat finished in 4:30.8, just ahead of Albany who came in at 4:32.1.

Heading back to the starting line for the final race. (5/26/13)
Crossing the finish just behind Fairport... but greater things are ahead for all these boys. (5/26/13)
The finals against Fairport went as seeded, which means that despite rowing well, the McQuaid 8A earned  silver. Given the struggles this spring season, a second place finish in a close race to a better boat is not such a tragedy, I suppose. Fortunately for those boys graduating, they were able to conclude their scholastic careers with not just a Pyrrhic victory of sorts, but also a silver medal and memories of a fine day o the water.

A tired boat savors the spectators encouraging cheers. (5/26/13)
Many of the fantastic alumni families and rowers were on hand to cheer on and congratulate the boys between races and after finals. It was great to see many of the faces that first greeted my wife and I when Greg started five years ago, little knowing how good the sport would be to him and his teammates. Much pride can be taken away by these lads who began middle school (and rowing) knowing little about the sport, but graduate as seasoned and accomplished veterans.

The four rowers (minus coxswain Gifford who had a prom to attend) receive their silver medals. (5/26/13)
Au Revoir! (5/26/13).
With the boats are loaded back on the trailer for the last time, another page is turned. For seniors who will be graduating next weekend, this was their last regatta. Next weekend, the underclassmen head to Canada for their last regatta of the season, and their first as the upperclassmen-cum-upperclassmen of McQuaid Crew.

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