Several local high school rowing teams celebrated top-three finishes last weekend at the New York State Scholastic Rowing Association championship regatta on Fish Creek in Saratoga Springs.
Saratoga Rowing Association led the local programs with 13 top-three finishes, followed by Niskayuna Rowing with eight and Burnt Hills Rowing with five.
The Burnt Hills Rowing Association boys’ varsity quad was first across the line, edging Oak Neck Rowing Academy by less than half-second for gold.
“We were the fastest New York team at the Saratoga Invitational [April 30, May 1], second to Y Quad Cities, a fast quad out of Iowa,” Burnt Hills Rowing high school coach Andy Sayles said. “I figured that a lot of teams are probably going to close the gap up to us a little bit. I didn’t expect it to be easy at all. Oak Neck has won states a few times, and Niskayuna returned three out of four guys from their quad that was the Scholastic [Scholastic Rowing Association of America regatta] champion last year.”
Niskayuna finished third, two seconds behind Oak Neck in the final.
The BHRA girls’ freshman quad was second to Niskayuna, 15 seconds behind the winner, slowed by an oar getting caught in the water, halting the boat of four rowers and forcing them to restart.
“It was a pretty tight race until they caught a crab halfway into the race,” Sayles said, using rowing slang to describe the incident. “We were happy they regained their composure and got a second.”
A number of top-finishing boats in the single high school division and combined schools [club] divisions earned automatic berths to two future national championships.
The girls’ varsity double of underclassmen Rebecca Schmidt and Kaylin Schneider finished fourth overall, but were the first single high school boat across the line for Niskayuna Rowing.
“I was thrilled with our kids across the board,” said Stacey Apfelbaum, Niskayuna Rowing girls’ head coach and program director. “The only big surprise was the senior double. Those girls are a sophomore and a junior, they did a great job.”
Apfelbaum was impressed by the girls’ freshman/novice quad impressive win against the field.
“It was the first time they all focused and they just took off,” Apfelbaum said. “The key to that group was just focus and determination. It was really exciting to see them do that.”
Niskayuna rowing earned medals in three-quarters of the races entered and saw 95 percent of its entries advance out of the time trial qualifier into final races.
Both Saratoga Rowing and Niskayuna Rowing will compete Saturday at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia before traveling to Camden, New Jersey, to compete in the Scholastic Rowing Association of America championship regatta May 27-28. Saratoga has eight entries, Niskayuna four and Burnt Hills Rowing will send two entries.