Head of The Fish Regatta a “Mixed Bag” For Crew Team

On the last weekend of October, Northwood’s crew team traveled to Saratoga Springs, NY to compete in the Head of the Fish hosted by the Saratoga Rowing Association. With over 2,100 entries and 170 clubs participating in the event, rowers from across the northeastern region the country, including the Huskies, assembled on Fish Creek despite the miserable weather. Coach H. Runyon said, “The Head of the Fish, for us, is a race where we hope to put together puzzle pieces we’ve been working on throughout the fall season. These include skill pieces, fitness pieces, and racing knowledge pieces.”

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The regatta commenced on Saturday, the 27th of October, at 8 am despite the miserable weather. Though a technical issue arose in the midst of her race, Women’s Open Lightweight Single, Junior Jessica Jang finished fourth after rowers from Ithaca College and the Saratoga Rowing Association. Unfortunately, Quincy Pell ‘19 and Riley Biro ‘21 could not race in their event, Men’s Junior Novice/Freshman Single, and Jang could not participate in her second event, Women’s Junior U19 Single, as all races scheduled later in the day were canceled due to heavy rain and strong wind. The three rowers, Jang, Pell, and Biro, returned back to Northwood campus with one of the coaches, B. Runyon, in the afternoon.

On the cold and rainy morning of the 28th, Tommy Boulais ‘19 and Owen Pierce ‘21 competed in Men’s Junior Double and placed 38th. They cut their time from the Tail of the Fish down by three minutes in the Head of the Fish. “I think that the race went really well,” said Owen Pierce. He added, “Tommy and I rowed well together, and we were able to power through the cold weather to pull out a decent time. I think it was a great way to end the race season. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do even better in our races in the spring.”

Coach H. Runyon was ambivalent about how the regatta went for the team. He commented, “As it was last year, the Head of the Fish this year was a mixed bag for us. We didn’t get to do all the events we entered in because of the ugly weather. It was a disappointment. In the two events we did race in, however, I was very pleased with how the rowers did.”

For the three athletes who raced, the Head of the Fish marked a successful culmination of their time and commitment in the crew program. “Jessica Jang’s performance was a new level of competence for her despite that we’d given her a boat that was not properly put together for racing due to our carelessness. In the Junior Double the next day, Tommy and Owen certainly gave the best race effort that they’d given yet. They came off the water thrilled about what they had done. B. Runyon and I were very happy about both of the performances. It’s just too bad that two other people who came with us couldn’t get to see what they were capable of,” Runyon remarked.

Although the end of the fall season is fast-approaching, some rowers will train during the long winter, mostly through indoor conditioning, to prepare for the spring races. The first race in spring will be a scrimmage at the Hudson River in Mechanicville, NY at the beginning on May. The crew team will also compete in the NYS Scholastic Rowing Championship in mid-may. H. Runyon said, “The championship is a 1,500-meter sprint like all spring races for high school students. We’ll be working on higher speed and technical precision because the stroke rates have to be higher, the blade work has to be cleaner, and the fitness has to be more speed-oriented rather than endurance-oriented.”

As for boat classes, though the coaches are uncertain about the team composition next year, it is possible that Northwood will have a boys’ novice four in the spring season. “It will be fun. We haven’t had a big enough crowd of athletes of one gender and a matching level of ability to fill a four-seat boat in several years,” Coach explained. The crew team has some promising rowers on the girls’ side as well. “We have Jessica Jang and [Imani Hawman ‘20], who’ve been advancing well in a lightweight double. We also have the possibility of other novice rowers.”

Once Mirror Lake freezes, the team usually returns to rowing at the end of the April break, which is a late start. “Spring season will be hard because we get limited water time. We always have that against us, but sometimes we beat the odds and have a good spring season,” H. Runyon said.

Note: photos accompanying this article are from the Tail of the Fish Regatta, which was held earlier this race season.

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