|National Silver Medalist Boys' Senior Four|
Highlighted by a second-place finish for the boy’s varsity four, a bronze medal in the girl’s junior four, and a fifth-place finish in the boy’s junior four, the McCallie and GPS rowing squads turned in a historic performance at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America (SRAA) National Championships. The SRAA Nationals had over 179 teams compete in32 different categories. Teams came from as far away as California, Arizona, Florida, New York and Canada, as well as other states. All of the competitors had to advance from regional qualifiers. The senior four field had 32 entries, the girls and
boys junior fours competed against 23 other teams.
The weekend started off with the McCallie Freshmen eight drawing a stacked field in their heat. They faced off with LaSalle HS (PA), Chaminade HS (NY), Gonzaga (DC), Monclair (NJ), and Canisius HS (NY). The Blue Tornado oarsmen put in a solid effort but did not advance from the heats.
The boy’s Junior four advanced directly to the final by finishing in the top three spots in their race. McCallie battled Don Bosco (NJ) all the way down the course and chose not to sprint with their spot in the semifinal secured. Don Bosco sprinted ahead and captured the heat while the Blue Tornado oarsmen tried to be strategic since they had two races coming on the next day.
The boy’s Junior eight also faced a very tough draw. They were pitted against Monclair (NJ), St. Joseph’s Prep (PA), St. Ignatius (OH), Bishop O’Connell (VA) and LaSalle HS (PA). McCallie hung tough during the first 500 meters but began to fall off the pace over the second half of the race. While the boat, comprised of all sophomores, did not advance, they learned a great deal about racing and are looking to make a big jump next year.
The McCallie oarsmen rebounded by defeating the defending national champions from Canisius HS from Buffalo, NY. The Blue Tornado oarsmen started slowly, but steadily rowed through the field and crossed the line with open water between themselves and the competition. They were able to advance directly to the semifinals. All the other crews had to race again that afternoon in the rep or second chance race. Canisius was followed by T.C. Williams, of Remember the Titans fame, St. Edwards (OH), and Unionville (PA).
Saturday brought sunshine and very tough racing as the crews were vying for spots in the grand final. In McCallie’s Junior four semi-final, the boys would face a stiff field and an uphill battle to make the final. The young sophomore boat came out swinging and led the field with 300 meters to go. They were pressed hard by Nichols School (NY) but managed to hold on to the top spot. Radnor HS (PA) tapped out Bishop O’Connell for the last spot in the grand final by .5 of a second.
The McCallie senior four semifinal was set to be a barn burner as only five crews broke the five minute mark on the previous day, and four were in McCallie’s semifinal including Father Judge who was coming off of a Stotesbury Cup win. McCallie blasted out of the blocks and stayed with the field for the first 750 meters. As the boats crossed the halfway mark, it was anybody’s race. Over the next 300 meters, McCallie surged out to a half of a deck lead over Father Judge. The two schools would battle over the next 150 meters until Judge’s sprint was too much for the Tornado oarsmen. Rockford HS (MI) was tapped out for the last spot in the final by Fayetteville-Manlius (NY) by .5 of a second.
After sending three boats to the Grand Final during Saturday morning’s semis, both McCallie and GPS knew they were poised for a strong finish this weekend.
The boy’s Junior four was the first final of the afternoon. They lined up against Upper Arlington (OH), Don Bosco (NJ), Nichols School (NY), Radnor HS (PA), and Saratoga HS (NY). McCallie blasted out of the starting blocks and was in medal contention 500 meters into the race. The young crew struggled with the rough conditions in the middle of the race course but continued to push through. In the last 500 meters of the race, North Arlington held a slight lead before being nosed out at the finish line by Don Bosco by .3 of a second. Nichols was only .8 behind Upper Arlington. McCallie finished in fifth place with a time of 5:10.2.
The McCallie senior boy’s four capped off the weekend by earning a silver medal. In a hotly-contested field which included Father Judge (PA), Walter Johnson HS (MD), Fayetteville-Manlius (NY), Christian Brothers Academy (NJ), and Canisius HS (NY). McCallie started in fourth position and steadily worked through the field. Big Blue seized momentum and a lead at the halfway mark. Over the last quarter of the race, Father Judge shadowed them down the course and waited for their moment to strike. They pounced with 150 meters to go and drew even with McCallie. A herculean sprint propelled Father Judge past the Blue Tornado with less than 100 meters to go. Walter Johnson seized the bronze by .8 seconds over Fayetteville-Manlius. It was a spectacular conclusion to a McCallie career by the five seniors who comprised the crew.
The races are available to view at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnHXE7dH-Tw
(The boy’s junior four can be viewed at the 5:49 mark and the boy’s senior four can be viewed at the 7:24 mark.)
McCallie Head Coach Sean McCourt
"This has been such a trying season for McCallie, and the boys at this race were the glue that kept us going all season long. It was unbelievable to have two boats make the grand final. We have been working towards this moment all year, and are so excited for our boys and the girls from GPS. We were a part of so much tight racing this weekend, it was so exciting! The younger guys who raced in the freshmen eight and junior eights raced hard as well and have picked up valuable race experience. The future looks bright for Big Blue oarsmen."
McCallie Senior & Co- Captain Josh Gable
"The whole weekend almost felt like a dream to me. I think that we were the only people at the course that believed the team from Tennessee could make a statement at the race. When we got to the line in the grand final, the boat was so calm, and we knew that it was going to be a battle till the last stroke. We went down early at the start but when we hit our base shift no one could stop us. We moved ahead of the pack for the majority of the race, but unfortunately our sprint wasn’t enough to beat Father Judge. Even though we lost, the boat had never been so happy. It was the greatest race of our lives and an even better way to leave McCallie!"
Boy’s Senior Four
Boy’s Junior Four