By Bob York
After serving as skipper of the Big Green boys crew program for the past three years, Ben Hamilton is abandoning ship and heading to a new port of call in the Boston area. And so, his sailors wanted to come up with an appropriate going-away present—and did.
Deerfield’s No. 1 boat finished second at this spring’s New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Regatta. But that’s just the beginning. That second-place finish qualified the No. 1 boat for the Nationals in Tennessee, where it grabbed a bronze medal while competing against some of the elite crews from throughout the entire country.
“Think about it,” said a proud Hamilton, “we’ve got the third fastest fours in the country in the high school bracket.”
The Big Green boat, which was powered by Brad Tingley ’11, Tanner Larson ’11, Brad Plunkett ’12, Alex Berner ’12, and Brad Hakes ’12 finished behind the Oakland (Calif.) Strokes and the St. Louis Rowing Club, both of which compete up to 10 months a year.
“We, on the other hand, just row together as a team for a couple of months a year,” said Hamilton, “so what these kids accomplished is really amazing.”
The boat, which contained Coaches’ Award winners Tingley, Larson, and Berner as well as Hakes, who will be next year’s co-captain, had another challenge to overcome at the Nationals and that would be the distance of the race.
“We’d been competing over a distance of 1,500 meters all season long,” explained Hamilton. “At the Nationals, the distance is bumped up to 2,000 meters. And we had to adjust for that extra distance … and adjust to it quickly. And we did well, considering that that extra distance added about another minute and a half to the race time. And I just couldn’t be prouder of the kids.”
Despite the No. 1 boat’s second-place finish at the New England regatta and the third boat’s silver-medal performance, the Big Green missed the medals podium. The team finished fifth overall—but just five points out of second place. The fourth boat finished fourth, while the second boat missed qualifying for the Grand Finale by less than one second.
“The scoring ended up so close that if the second boat had made it to the Grande Finale, that would have put us in second place,” said Hamilton.
The second-place No. 3 boat consisted of Tom Earle ’12, Ryan Heffernan ’12, Charlie Wilson ’12, Ted Romeyn ’13, and Erik Alfieri ’13. The fourth boat, meanwhile, consisted of Charlotte Blais ’11, Mike Yang ’11, Nash Larmoyeux ’11, Jack O’Donnell ’11, and Rich Caputo ’14.
The members of the second boat were Alfonso Velasco ’11, John Marsh ’12, Henry Bird ’12, who has been voted as a co-captain of next year’s squad, Warner Brown ’13, and Conner Romeyn ’13.
Groten finished first in the final New England regatta standings with 39 points, while Choate was second with 34. Belmont Hill placed third with 32 points while Brook finished with 31 and Deerfield posted 29.
Bob York is a Greenfield Recorder wire editor. His email address is email@example.com.