Boys Varsity Quad makes history in Stotesbury Regatta

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By Alex Gurski, Multimedia Editor

With tired arms, sore legs and high spirits, the Conestoga crew club’s boys varsity boat of four, or “quad,” won gold at the nationally-recognized Stotesbury Cup Regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia on May 18 and 19. 

This marked the first time in the crew team’s history that the boys varsity quad has placed first in this category, crossing the finish line over four seconds faster than the second place boat.

According to coach John Hayburn, seniors Brenton Molsbergen and Kale Wiley and juniors Andrew McLellan and Max Harmon pulled off the win for the first time due to the speed they developed throughout the season.

“In some years we’ve had three guys that were definitely ready for the boat, and one guy who wasn’t that we were trying to get ready for it. This year, we have six guys that we could have really looked at for any seat in that boat, which is very fortuitous for us.”

The four boys, along with the rest of the crew team, have been training since December to perfect their technique and enhance their skills. As for the specific Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the preparations began back in February when the team hit the water. With intense practices and long hours, the team pushed themselves to the extreme.

“We treat each practice as an opportunity to row better than we did the day before. We show up every day and take every stroke with purpose and drive,” Molsbergen said.

After a growing number of wins throughout the season, McLellan believes the key to their success was staying grounded and not getting overconfident.

“We started refocusing and not thinking about the superficial gains before the race, like trophies and celebrating, but instead on how we can overcome the competition and be the fastest boat on the water,” McLellan said.

Though Molsbergen said they also had to overcome “a lot of different personalities,” rowing brought them together.

“That’s the beautiful thing about rowing,” Molsbergen said. “Spending every moment of your life with a group of people, putting yourselves through extensive amounts of physical pain, can really bring you together.”

Hayburn always believed in the four athletes, knowing early on in the season that they had the potential to do great things.

“They are united in a common goal. They wanted to be the first team to get it done, and early in the season they just found speed we didn’t know they could possibly have. Ever since then, they realized that we can do it,” Hayburn said.

On the day of the Stotesbury Regatta, vendors, tents and spectators lined the banks of the Schuylkill River. Conestoga had the home advantage, rowing on the same river as daily crew practice, but the team would still race against some of the best rowers in the country.

“I had a lot of fun at Stotesbury because it’s such a big race with lots of history,” Wiley said.

 The regatta was founded in 1927 by philanthropist Edward T. Stotesbury and is the oldest and one of the largest high school rowing competitions, one that Conestoga Crew Club has competed in since the club was founded 20 years ago. Almost 5,500 students from 189 different clubs competed in this competition, making it tough competition for Conestoga rowers.

Although the club has placed in the regatta before, never has the boys varsity quad won gold. After this achievement and after having broken records for Conestoga, the quad reflected on their win.

“It feels great that all our hard work has led us to become one of the best boys quads our club has ever had,” Harmon said. “We’ve done something that no one else has been able to do, and that makes the feeling so much better.”

As a senior, Molsbergen was overjoyed with the win, knowing it would be one of his last races as a Conestoga student.

“This was probably one of the happiest moments in my entire life,” Molsbergen said. “The feeling is indescribable. My entire four years at Conestoga, I’ve worked countless hours with the Conestoga Crew Club. It’s my life, and it’s honestly the best decision I’ve ever made.”