F-M crew wins program's first national championship

On May 27-28, the Fayetteville-Manlius girls crew junior 4+ team, won the F-M program's first national championship in Camden, N.J. Here is a first-person account of that historic occasion by one of the parents, Rich Anderson.

Our daughter Kaitlin, along with teammates Keara Lynn, Nikole Metz, Claire Meyers and Sam Paige, qualified for the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Nationals on the weekend of May 14-15 with a strong third-place finish at the New York State championships at Saratoga Springs.

We traveled down to Camden, N.J., on Memorial Day weekend to watch them compete in this prestigious event. In all, F-M qualified four boats, and Kaitlin's boat - the junior 4+ - entered the competition with confidence as the girls continued to improve throughout the season.

The weekend prior to the Nationals, F-M beat the state champion varsity 4+ boat from Pittsford at the Syracuse Invitational at Onondaga Lake Park. That's a big accomplishment, for a junior boat to beat a state champion varsity boat.

The venue in Cherry Hill was quite magnificent, and the weather close to perfect for the weekend. More than 110 teams qualified for the National Regatta, with nearly 1,000 boats competing. The area was full of tents, boats, athletes and spectators as far as the eye could see.

On May 27, the heats were hectic and full of tension, as the top two boats in each heat qualified for the semifinals (top 12 overall). With power and strength, F-M calmly won their heat by almost 15 seconds.

That qualified them for the semifinals and a showdown with Nardin, a Buffalo rowing powerhouse, and Emma Willard -

both teams that had beat them at Saratoga. That semifinal, on the morning of May 28, went much differently than the heats, as F-M combined strategy and power to make their way to the finals.

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