School rowers take top spot
CROMWELL College may not be traditionally regarded as a powerhouse when it comes to rowing, but a group of its pupils are proving when it comes to being the best in the country, it makes no difference how big your school is.
The school’s under-16 coxed four have only been together as a team since last year, but already they’re being recognised as a force to be reckoned with in the national rowing scene.
And the team, made up of Josh Drummond, Brad Thompson, Ethan Edmunds-Scott, Jared Maclachlan and cox’n Nick Drummond, was recognised for last year’s outstanding achievement in the sport by being named the supreme winner at the Cromwell Sportsperson of the Year Awards, on Saturday night.
Earlier in the night the team was named Cromwell team of the year, while school-mate Annalyse Shaw, 18, was named Junior Sportsperson of the Year for her hockey success.
Fellow Cromwell College pupil and top junior woodchopper Brad Pako won a $500 Cromwell Sport Club youth assistance grant to help him with his travelling expenses.
The rowers, who are coached by Maude O’Connell, only took up the sport three years ago when O’Connell put the word out that she was interested in putting together a team.
It was the first time there had been a Cromwell rowing squad.
The rowers spent the next two years learning the sport and were mixed and matched with other rowers, before the crew was chosen last year and started rowing together seriously.
And their hard work and early morning training sessions have paid off, as the crew had an outstanding 2009 season, which included winning the Southland regatta and finishing second at the South Island championships.
The season was capped off by qualifying for the ‘‘A’’ final of the New Zealand secondary schools’ championships (the Maadi Cup) at Lake Ruataniwha.
The crew finished seventh in the final, but its performance was severely impeded by another crew which had been forced to race in the same lane as Cromwell and ended up getting in the Cromwell boat’s way. The crew tried to lodge a protest, but was told its protest was invalid as they had already left the water.
O’Connell said the experience had been devastating for the young rowers, but was all part of their learning curve. She was proud of the boys and said they had shown true commitment and dedication to their sport.
‘‘They’re coming up against these huge rowing schools like Auckland Grammar and Hamilton Boys and they’re holding their own against them.’’
The crew’s aim is to win this year’s Maadi Cup and they hope to row for New Zealand in the future.
Winners: The Cromwell College under-16 coxed rowing crew with their spoils from being named the supreme winner at the Cromwell Sportsperson of the Year Awards on Saturday night. From left: Josh Drummond, 15, Brad Thompson, 16, cox’n Nick Drummond, 13, Ethan Edmunds-Scott, 15 and Jared Maclachlan, 16.