AJR Men’s V4+ Headed to Nationals

First Place Regional Win by the AJR Men’s Varsity 4+ and Strong Showings by the Whole Team 

May 8-9, 2021 | OAK RIDGE, TN — [by Coach Steve Hall] Because of the pandemic, Annapolis Junior Rowing (AJR) had to cancel their Spring Season in 2020 and offer a single-sculling-only season in the Fall of 2020, but they emerged in the spring of 2021 determined to get back on the water in team boats and ended the season with strong showings by the whole team and a First Place Regional Win by the Men’s Varsity 4+ at the USRowing Southeast Regional Championships in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

With literally no normal races in 2021’s schedule, Head Coach Bridget Fitzpatrick arranged two scrimmages at St. Andrews (Delaware) and on the Anacostia, where three teams came together in a number of friendly pickup races. As more things started to open up across the country, Regional Championships became a possibility.

While the traditional USRowing Mid-Atlantic Regionals at Mercer Lake are usually where AJR competes, due to NJ’s COVID requirements to be from only nearby states, they were not allowed to attend. Quickly, Coach Bridget contacted the USRowing Southeast Regional organizers and determined AJR could compete in that Regatta. They set out to face new competitors with some well-organized clubs in a region where rowing is practically year ‘round. AJR took 32 rowers to the SE Regional Championships held on May 8 and 9 at a splendid racecourse in the foothills of Tennessee. They entered 8 events.

Men’s Varsity 4+ Event:  Pascal Evans, Alex Quilliam, Dylan Green, Andre Sander and coxed by Chloe Lee.  In a field of 12 boats seeking to qualify into the Finals, our Varsity men posted the fastest time trial result of the 12 boats, building hopes of a fabulous Sunday final.  They didn’t disappoint, taking a hard-fought race against Sarasota and Atomic and finished in FIRST PLACE in the final by 1.8 seconds over a big Sarasota boat.  They were dubbed a “great boat” by many coaches coming up to congratulate them and Head Men’s Coach Phil Lyman after the race.

Historically, a first place win at a qualifying regatta would guarantee an entry into the USRowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota in early June. But due to the impact of COVID-19 on 2021 qualifying regattas, this year’s USRowing Youth National Regatta will not be using our Youth National Championships-qualifying criteria. Instead this year USRowing committees will rank the crews in their region to determine who will receive the entries. AJR has applied for an entry and is confident they will get a bid.

Women’s 8+ Event: Rowing for AJR were Elliana Shields, Claudia Decker, Fara Konschak, Charlotte Dickinson, Hannah Klein, Hanna Hartley, Abby Hayden, Sydney Campbell and coxed by Jedin Truong.  In this competitive Time Trial event, a total of 8 teams were entered for 7 slots in the finals.  AJR rowed one of its best 2000m times of the year, but missed qualifying for the finals.  Coach Bridget stated that it was one of their best rows together this year and was really proud of the effort against really stiff southeastern crews.

Women’s 4+ Event: Rowing for AJR were Claudia Decker, Madelynn Fangio, Madeleine Toomey, Ella Fowler and coxed by Jedin Truong.  There were 15 entries with crews needing to qualify by rowing a Time Trial and Semi-Final in order to make the finals.  AJR again rowed well and made it to the Semis in the afternoon.  There, they stayed with the pack in a competitive race, but fell out of the top 3 positions needed to make the finals.  Again, a “best row” for this group in a competitive matchup.

Men’s Singles: Sr. Austin Schaeffer began the men’s competition in an event with 21 entries and a Time Trial was used to get rowers into Semi-Finals.  He posted the 10th best time and made it through to the afternoon Semis, where he unfortunately tangled with the course buoys and flipped, which put him out of contention.  In great spirit and effort, he climbed back in and finished the final 1,600 meters rowing well and proudly.  No doubt he likely would have qualified for the Finals.

In addition to the winning Men’s V4+ boat, AJR Men competed in 4 other 4+ Events (3 JV and one Under 17):

  • Men’s U17 4+: Brenden Lively, Jake Henceroth, Jacob Perry, Alex Shields and coxed by Tyler Bailey. For most, this was their first competition of their rowing career and they surprised with a great row in a 10 boat time trial.  They finished 4th and qualified for the Finals.  In Sunday’s Finals, they again rowed strongly and finished less than 2 seconds out of third place and well ahead of the final 3 crews, posting 4th out of all 10 boats overall!
  • Men’s JV C boat: Ryan Fennelly, Connor Harris, Liam Swick, Thales Savkli and coxed by Tyler Bailey.  Once again, this was a first ever race for the entire boat and they rowed and impressed beating three other crews down the course but missing the Finals by less than 5 seconds for a 4th place finish.  This was an excellent effort by these young rowers!
  • Men’s JV B boat: Brenden Lively, Nate Smitherman, Seth Hughes, Lance Lauer and coxed by Chloe Lee.  Working to qualify for the Finals against 7 boats, they posted a good time and placed 5th in the heat but did not make the Finals.  Had they been in the previous heat, they would have qualified based on the times posted.  Yet again a great effort!
  • Men’s JV A boat: Austin Schaeffer, Sean Merriam, Rohan Lakhanpal, Jake Henceroth and coxed by Jedin Truong.  This has been a strong combination in this short spring season, and they rowed well in their 7 boat Heat, finishing 2nd and qualifying for the Sunday Finals.  In the finals, they finished with a respectable 4th place finish, shaving 10 seconds off their Heat time.  JV A placed #4 overall out of the 14 JV boats!

Concluding thoughts: 

When you can get 32 AJR athletes to compete in a regional regatta and so many of them their first such experience – that’s a WIN!  When you can represent AJR in a regional that doesn’t know us well – and perform like we did – that’s a WIN!  When you can give your returning rowers (many) a great moment to build on for next year – that’s a WIN!  When you can send off Seniors in a great regatta – especially in a COVID interrupted career – that’s a WIN!  And when you can claim the best Men’s 4+ and move to the Nationals – BIG WIN!

We had great support from our parents (another big WIN) and those who couldn’t make it, we thank you for entrusting your rowers with us.  And thanks to the coaches who physically and mentally prepared our rowers to race!