Herons win three at Gunston Invitational
CENTREVILLE — Gunston Day School head rowing coach Nicole Stimpson likes where her team is at two weeks shy of the state championships.
After three firsts and five runnerup finishes at Saturday’s third annual Gunston Invitational on the Corsica River, it’s easy to understand why.
“I think we had a really strong showing,” Stimpson said after the final race on a spectacular spring day on the river. “I think this is a good time to see where we’re at and where we need to tweak and improve on as we head into that big race.”
Six days after a 15-second seasonopening victory over St. Paul’s of Baltimore, Gunston’s boys’ varsity four of Ben Jones, Garrett Rudolfs, Alex Papadopoulos, Ethan Boone and coxswain Eli Schut completed the 1,500-meter course in a firstplace time of 5 minutes, 48.2 seconds, beating second-place Montgomery Blair by 15 seconds.
Gunston’s girls’ varsity eight — Natalie Prochaska, Abby Miller, Sarah Bryant, Natalie Purpora, Kylee Naumann, Aggie Raymond, Maddy Romberger, Olivia Sherman and coxswain Tong Shen — crossed the finish line in 6:14.64, which was 20 seconds behind first-place Notre Dame Prep.
The Herons then registered their second victory of the day, with the boys’ junior varsity four of Sam Wargotz, Neel Patel, Chris Newberg, Jack Xu and coxswain Lauren Covell (5:29.4) defeating the Eastonbased Freedom Rowers (5:45.3).
Four races later, Gunston’s boys’ varsity eight — Covell, Jones, Rudolfs, Papadopoulos, Wargotz, Boone, Patel, Newberg and Xu — out-dueled Blair in a two-boat race, finishing in 5:35.23 for a 13-second win, the Herons’ third win of the competition.
“I think there is more we can wring out,” Stimpson said. “I think there’s more in the towel, more speed that we can get out of these guys. The more experience that they’re getting through these races is going to help them get faster as well.”
In the day’s tightest race, Gun- ston just missed a fourth first-place, when the boys’ novice four — Dolan Carella, Sam Zussman, Davy Song, Nick Lee and coxswain Samara Pyfrom — was edged at the finish line by Blair, the Blazers finishing in 6:06.23, the Herons in 6:06.86.
Gunston’s girls’ varsity four — Sherman, Romberger, Raymond, Nauman, coxswain Shen — logged a 6:55.8 to finish second to Notre
Dame Prep (6:51.7). The Herons also picked up second place finishes in the boys’ and girls’ novice eights.
“Our girls’ varsity four, I think we’ve got some speed in there,” Stimpson said. “I think their sprint is going to need some refinement.”
There was no team champion at yesterday’s meet, and Stimpson said she hasn’t settled on what teams she plans on taking to Washington College on May 1 for states.
Though not eligible for states, the Freedom Rowers had a solid performance, led by their winning girls’ novice four team of Chloe Dixon, Susanna Bruce, Morgan Craver, Phoebe Fisher and coxswain Sequoia Chupek, which defeated Blair by 3 seconds with a 7:41 flat.
“We could not be more proud of the novice four girls,” Freedom Rowers head coach Chris Gill said. “They’ve worked so hard this year. For some of them, this was their very first race ever.
“And for our coxswain (Chupek), she’s a senior, so this is kind of her passing the torch to the other girls,” Gill added. “So we couldn’t be more proud of how each one of them performed today, especially the novice group. They’re so enthusiastic about the sport and I think all of them now are totally hooked and looking forward to the next four years with us. We’ve got a great group.”
The Freedom Rowers boys’ junior varsity four placed second to Gunston in 5:45.3. The girls’ junior varsity four was second in its heat, finishing with a 6:56.77.
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Gunston coxswain Lauren Covell, far left, yells encourage to the Herons’ boys’ varsity eight of Ben Jones, Garrett Rudolfs, Alex Papadopoulos, Sam Wargotz, Ethan Boone, Neel Patel, Chris Newberg and Jack Xu during their victory at Saturday’s Gunston Invitational.
From left, Freedom Rowers Chloe Dixon, Susanna Bruce, Morgan Craver and Phoebe Fisher won the girls’ noice four at Saturday’s Gunston Invitational. Not pictured is coxswain Sequoia Chupek.
A group of Saints Peter and Paul and Gunston players vie for a draw control during Wednesday’s game in Easton.