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Boys’ First Boat Rows to Bronze at Nationals
Jill Carroll '18 Associate Editor
September 14, 2016
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The boys’ crew team first boat finished off the year strong by capturing the New England title and finishing third in Nationals just a few days later. The first boat, led by head coach Spencer Washburn, included captains Caleb Friends ’16 and Gordon Johnson ’17, Freddie Johnson ’17, Will Sanford ’17, and Dani Michelson ’17.

From right to left, Coach Washburn, Gordon Johnson '17, Will Sanford'17, Dani Michelson '17, Freddie Johnson '17, and Caleb Friends '16 stand with bronze metals.

From left to right: Caleb Friends ’16, Freddie Johnson ’17, Dani Michelson ’17, Will Sanford ’17, Gordon Johnson ’17, and Coach Washburn stand with bronze metals.

At New Englands, the boys’ first boat finished in first place with a time of 4:52.883. Their win automatically qualified them for the Youth National Championship held from June 10th-12th. During the National Championship, the boys earned their bronze medal with a time of 6:32.820, falling just 2.198 seconds behind the silver medalist, Belmont Hill.

“At Nationals, we were a little bit disappointed we got third, but it was a great race and getting third in the country is nothing to be ashamed of,” Johnson commented.

When asked about the caliber of competition, Johnson added, “The competition at Nationals was definitely top class, with every boat in our category representing the fastest programs across the country.” He also shared that the majority of the teams they faced practiced with an intense regimen year-round, while Deerfield’s rowers only trained as a team in the spring. Even though the boys do not practice year-round, their concentrated spring training prepares them well for racing season. The boys practice six days a week with morning lifts on Tuesdays and Thursday. Most afternoons, the team “rows for two hours… constantly doing race pieces to get the boat up to speed and ready to go,” stated Johnson.

Reflecting on last season, Coach Washburn shared that practices were his favorite memories. “I love being at practice with this team. They’re fun. They work hard. They enjoy what they’re doing. They’re a blast to work with.” He also remarked that he “was most proud of the way the group was willing to take a good look at the team’s culture and they started to ask some hard questions about what it meant to be part of the Deerfield Academy rowing program.” Johnson shared that from last season he is “most proud of how the guys responded to some of the extremely difficult workouts the coaches put forth. No one shied away from the task but instead was happy for the challenge.”

As students return to Deerfield for another school year, Coach Washburn reminds us that “each year is different and we don’t approach the season thinking that we need to repeat or defend anything.” Although the boys’ first boat will have four returning members, the coach stated that it is up to the boys to work hard and re-earn their spots. He also added that “the rowers that race for Deerfield this spring will create their own identities and work to achieve their own successes.”

Johnson is optimistic for the upcoming season, stating, “next year we will continue to press the idea that everyone on the team matters. From novice to varsity, each rower has his own part and matters to the entire success of the program. It’s not just about the first boat but rather about every boat and every rower.”