The Gunnery’s Boys’ First Boat Claims National Championship
On Sunday June 8th, Fish Creek in Saratoga, New York, was the site of a dramatic finish as The Gunnery’s Boys’ 1st boat won their first National Championship in 5:03:63 at the first National Schools’ Championship Regatta sponsored by the National Scholastic Rowing Association and hosted by the Saratoga Rowing Association.
The triumphant crew, Bobby Hooper ‘14 (stroke), son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hooper ’14 of Marion MA, Mason Pollock (3-seat) son of Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Pollock of Northridge, CA, Pat Iannone ’15 (2-seat) son of Mr. Mark Iannone and Ms. Marylou Walsh-Iannone of Thomaston, CT, Andrey Yuzvik ’14 (bow), son of Mr. Alexander Yuzvik and Mrs. Nadeshda Ivanova of Moscow, Russia and Abby Herrup ’14 (cox) daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Herrup of Sheffield, MA, had a great story to tell.
Their final day of racing was much like the season itself. It was one of the coldest winters in recent memory in Connecticut, and the prospect of rowing in April, much less setting the racecourse, seemed unlikely with a foot of ice on Lake Waramaug in late March and wind and snow in the forecast for weeks. The grueling erg workouts and long campus runs that followed made for a slow start to the season. When they finally got on the water in mid-April, the boys started to pick up speed, but had some catching up to do. And catch up they did.
The 1st boat finished 4th in the Grand Final at Founders Day in May and then went on to win the DuPont Cup at Pomfret (beating Taft and St. Mark’s), as well as the Smith Cup and Highlander-Saints Cups at Lake Waramaug (ahead of Taft, Berkshire, and Canterbury), the first time the crew captured all three in a season. They entered the New England Championships as the 3rd seed, finishing 4th behind Deerfield, Belmont Hill and Groton and earning an invitation to the Scholastic National Championships. This steady, consistent progress, peaking at just the right time, became characteristic of the boat’s racing style as well. Slower off the start, they would work their way back into the race and walk through crews to seal the win with a powerful, effective sprint.
On the final race day in Saratoga, The Gunnery moved through their early morning heat with ease, finishing one second behind Episcopal Academy (with a time of 5:10:36) to secure their place in the Grand Final. After the heat, the crew met with Coach Kevin Garrity ’99 to go over strategy and to hydrate and rest, as the temperatures on the course were approaching the mid-80s. The Gunnery boat launched for the Grand Final, well-prepared for the race. As expected, they started off slowly, but stuck to their strategy, and during the middle portion of the race systematically passed traditional powerhouse crews like Kent and St. Joseph’s Prep. The last 100 meters saw the Highlanders use their customary, powerful sprint to overtake Episcopal and Lyme-Old Lyme, finishing in 5:03:63 and winning the National Championship, and giving Mr. Garrity, a wonderful send-off in his final regatta as a Gunnery coach.
“I am so proud of this crew,” said Head of School Peter Becker. “The combination of hard work, sportsmanship and stellar leadership brought them to this point. Congratulations to Head Coach Kevin Garrity and Assistant Coaches Alison Frye, and Matt Daylor. Their leadership and dedication gave the crew the tools to come together as a team and peak at the right moment.”
As impressive, as they were on the water this year the 1st Boat and their team will leave behind a legacy bigger than the National Championship win for generations to come. They acted as ambassadors for the program and were actively involved in mentoring and helping their younger teammates as well as supporting and cheering on the girls’ team. Said Mr. Garrity "I could not be more proud of the guys this year. They are not the biggest or strongest guys we've ever had on the team but the enthusiasm for hard work they bring to the boathouse has been incredible. The key to their success has been the bond they've created as teammates. I've never coached a group that supported and trusted each other as much as the boys crew team this spring.”
Founded in 1850 by abolitionist, educator, and outdoorsman Frederick Gunn, The Gunnery is a coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9 through 12/post-graduate. Dedicated teacher-mentor-coaches challenge students to reach their full potential in a home-like setting where character and citizenship are valued as much as intellect and achievement. Individualized attention and high expectations help young learners develop not only the skills and confidence they will need in college, but also the moral compass and love of learning that will serve them well in life. The school attracts ambitious, academically curious students who will both shine as unique individuals and thrive as contributing members of a deeply connected community. By the time they graduate, Gunnery students have become well rounded, grounded young adults with a sharpened sense of who they are and who they want to become.