NISKAYUNA – The Niskayuna Rowing double of Dan Kelly and Adam Conrad proved for the second year in a row that they are the fastest high school doubles combination in the nation.
Kelly and Conrad won gold medals for the second year in a row at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America national championship regatta on the Cooper River in Camden, New Jersey, last weekend.
Last year the two rowed up in the senior division and captured the gold with only one race — the initial qualifier. Thunderstorms canceled last year’s final races and medals were awarded based on the initial heat times.
“I feel like there was a lot of pressure because last year, everyone didn’t know for sure if we should have won or not,” Conrad said. “This was the year to prove it.”
The Niskayuna double had the fastest time last Friday in the 1,500-meter qualifying heat in 5 minutes, 11.266 seconds, edging out Western Albemarle from Virginia at 5:11.900.
Kelly and Conrad had to wait another day to race in a final — weather permitting.
“We weren’t 100% positive we were going to win,” Kelly said. “We were seeded first, but we’ve been the upset [boat] before and we’ve been upset ourselves. We knew anything could happen and we had to go as hard as we could.”
In the final, Niskayuna out-rowed Western Albemarle by two seconds with Seton Hall Prep third, 13 seconds back.
“Our intent was to hold on throughout the race and hold off the field because we knew we had [speed] in our sprint,” Kelly said. “The second place crew is fast, they held on the whole time. We were not going to let them walk [pass] us. We held on.”
Repeating as a national champion didn’t surprise Niskayuna Rowing boys’ coach Sean O’Brien.
“They just needed to execute and they did,” O’Brien said. “To say it was simple is the wrong word, but they knew what to do. They’ve been doing this for a long time.”
OTHER LOCALS MEDAL AT SRAAs
The Saratoga Rowing Association girls’ varsity eight of coxswain Mackenna Billington, Bryn Dittrich, Claire Macy, Elisabeth Arnason, Meghan Fairley, Laine Emanatian, Sara Schechner, Carly Fay and Abby Brown finished second to Winter Park Florida, three seconds back for a silver medal in the SRAA national final.
The Augustine Classical Academy girls’ quad from Mechanicville, rowers Ashlyn Chaffee, Sarah Kinlocke, Abigail Hopkins and LilyAnna Hopkins, finished second behind Conestoga, Pennsylvania, one second back.
The Niskayuna girls’ freshman quad of Regan Anderson, Maren Daly, Krista Vena and Hazel Danko rowed to a bronze medal behind Conestoga and Springside Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia
The Burnt Hills Rowing girls’ junior quad of Maya Hernandez, Allison LaBuff, Kameron Siiss and Zoe Adams finished third, behind Western Albemarle and Ridgewood, New Jersey.
The Saratoga boys’ freshman quad of Cameron Huchro, Evan Katz, Jack Lowery and Colby Huchro finished third behind Haddon Township, New Jersey, and Belen Jesuit Prep from Florida.
NISKAYUNA DOUBLES WIN GOLD IN PHILLY
Niskayuna Rowing girls’ senior double of Heather Schmidt and Stella Mirkovic captured gold at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia May 21.
The Niskayuna double was first in the opening time trials and captured their semifinal to advance to the finals. In the final, Niskayuna bested the Redwood Scullers entry from California by nine seconds followed by Albemarle third, 15 seconds back.
The boys’ senior double of Kelly and Cooper Anderson also captured gold, finishing six seconds ahead of Western Ablemarle and Ablemarle High School.