NISKAYUNA — A goal of two Niskayuna High School junior rowers was realized last weekend in Philadelphia.
Niskayuna rowers Heather Schmidt and Jordan Zenner, both 17 years old, captured gold medals in the girls’ junior double at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The event had been canceled in 2020 because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“As soon as we found out we weren’t going to race last year, I said next year is our year,” Schmidt said. “I was in the junior quad as a freshman and we got second. Ever since that moment, I wanted to win a Stotesbury medal, I wanted to get up on that podium and hold that trophy.”
Fresh off its win in Philadelphia, the double will take its talents to Fish Creek at Saratoga Lake this weekend for the New York State Invitational to compete against teams from across the Empire State.
The two local rowers sent a message in last week’s opening heat, finishing as the fastest boat of the 23 entries, besting Castilleja School from Redwood City, California by six seconds.
In the semifinal the next day, the double advanced again as the top boat in its semifinal, out-rowing Albermarle High School from Charlottesville, Virginia by nine seconds to advance to the championship final.
This time, Castilleja was ready for its East Coast competitors.
“We had a rocky start; then, when we hit the 1,000-meter mark [remaining], that was our time to pull ahead,” Zenner said.
It was the first time the two rowers had to sprint all weekend against its competitors.
“We knew what we had to do,” Zenner said.
In a closer final, Niskayuna bested Castilleja once again for the gold, but this time by just two seconds.
“We push each other every single day in practice and when we are rowing,” Schmidt said. “It’s something really special.”
In 26 different race categories at this weekend’s invitational, the top-three finishers earn a bid to the US Rowing Youth National Regatta in Sarasota, Florida from June 10 to 13.
MORE STOTESBURY MEDALISTS
The Augustine Classical Academy girls’ freshman quad, based in Mechanicville, with rowers LilyAnna Hopkins, Isabelle West, Eva Homic and Sarah Kinlocke bested Conestoga and Germantown Friends for Stotesbury gold last weekend. The entry bested the Conestoga Crew Club from Pennsylvania by nine seconds and Germantown Friends from Philadelphia by 11 seconds in third.
Augustine Classical Academy’s girls’ lightweight double of Ashlyn Chaffee and Sarah Trouborst rowed to a bronze medal. The Niskayuna boys’ junior quad of Peter Bidoshi, Cooper Anderson, Daniel Kelly and Ryan Behar also rowed to a bronze medal last weekend.
The New York State Invitational Regatta has been adjusted due to coronavirus-related guidelines outlined by US Rowing, the sport’s governing body.
Each athlete, coach and essential person with each team must submit proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test from within the previous 72 hours.
No spectators/parents will be allowed on the Fish Creek shoreline, which is a first for the event that previously saw the shoreline filled with tents and thousands of cheering friends and family members.
This year the event will be livestreamed by Imagine Aerial including aerial drone views during the weekend. The event will be streamed on the company’s YouTube channel, Imagine Aerial.
Also, as part of the COVID-19 guidelines, the boys’ rowing championships will be held on Saturday, with Sunday dedicated to the girls’ championships to limit the number of athletes on the site each day. Previously, Saturday’s schedule included time trials and event heats, and Sunday was dedicated to championships.