For the second year in a row, the boys’ varsity crew team placed at the Junior National championships. But this year they surpassed last year’s bronze metal and took gold on June 12.
“Everyone knew it was going to be a war of attrition between the Big Green and the Belmont Hill boat,” said Tee Johnson ’69, who attended the championship. “For the entire length of the course, it was a close race. All teams were well ahead of their previous best time[s], but the last 300 yards was the nail-biter. Deerfield ended up just stroking-through Belmont Hills’ pace to finish less than one half-second ahead and clinch the title with a best time of 6:40.967.”
The boat was lead by boys’ head coach Wayne Berger ’84, who spent all season training champions Henry Bird ’12, Brad Hakes ’12, Brad Plunkett ’12, Rich Caputo ’14 and coxswain Grant Louis ’14
“The win didn’t just happen. We worked hard all season and put in the hours to be a winning team, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without Mr. Berger,” Louis said. “The boat’s performance was amazing at the championship. Everyone was focused both on and off the water to try to win a gold medal.”
He continued, “We visualized the race as a group. The rowers lay on the beds and I called the entire race so they could know exactly what was going to happen that afternoon. The rest is a blur.”
Looking to build on the wins are the new boys’ captains Warner Brown ’13, Conner Romeyn ’13 and Teddy Romeyn ’13.
“I would love to end my career at Deerfield with a National Championship like Hakes, Bird and Plunkett,” Teddy Romeyn said. “I hope this win will give us a sense of urgency to compete for a New England title and a national championship next year.Considering the great success of our novice boats [that won the lower boat championships], this team has a bright future.”
However, winning National’s was only the beginning of the summer for Deerfield rowers. Plunkett, Caputo and Claire Collins ’15, as well as Mr. Berger, were selected to represent the United States Junior National Rowing team at the World Championships in Plovidiv, Bulgaria. Collins, who only began rowing in March, won a silver in the Junior Women’s 8+.
“Being on the National Team is lots of fun, but lots of hard work,” she said. “I love the team though. All the girls are great.”
Louis added, “The bar is set high for next year’s team, but as Mr. Berger told us repeatedly this season, ‘pressure is a privilege.’ I am excited to try to defend our silver at New England’s and the National Championships with next year’s rowers.”