Crew - Girls' Varsity
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Lake Quinsagamond
Lake Quinsagamond
On Saturday, May 28, the Taft girls’ crew team took part in the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association championship regatta (NEIRAs) on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, MA. Because of the forecast of thunderstorms in the early afternoon (including possible hail and high winds), the organizers changed the format of the regatta; rather than the usual format of morning heats and afternoon finals, races would be run according to seed, with an “A” final (or Grand Final) for seeds 1-6, a “B” final (or Petite Final) for seeds 7-12, and – for the 1V and 2V – a “C” final for seeds 13-18.

The first race of the day for Taft girls saw the first-varsity boat in the Petite Final. Stroking the 1V for her last race as a Rhino, co-captain Eliza Ford set a solid pace for her boatmates – Clara Piasecki ’23, Sabrina Moffa ’24, Esmee Clew-Bachrach ’24, and Julia Pellegrini ’23 in the coxswain seat – in the first 500 meters. The boat from Groton shot out to an early lead, but the Tafties kept their cool and rowed their race, staying in contact with Groton for the length of the 1500 meter course. The crews from Brooks and Bay View hung tough, as well, and the race was a close one until Brooks pulled away in the final 500 meters. That left Taft, Groton, and Bay View to duke it out. The Rhinos rowed one of their best races of the season against some of the best competition they’ve faced and edged out Bay View by a half a second, but ran out of room to overtake Groton, who finished in second by 1.5 seconds. In the end, the 1V finished above its seed (11) – finished ninth in New England – which is a testament to how hard the boat worked in the final two weeks to continue to get faster.

Next up for Taft was the 3V, a boat coxed by Coco O’Brien ’25 and which included Jasmine Pun ’25, Seoyoung Kim ’23, Alex Arnold ’23, and Kendrick LaPrade ’25 – all but one of whom are novices this season. The Rhinos got off the starting docks with an excellent start, and stayed with the main pack for just about the entire first 500 meters of the race. Moves by Winsor and then NMH enabled those crews to open up a bit of a lead during the middle 500 meters, but Taft battled back and stayed in the race with Choate and BBN, with each of these three teams vying for a strong third-place finish. BBN put in a solid sprint, and at the line, Choate nudged ahead of Taft by less than a second, leaving the Rhinos to settle for a fifth-place finish.

In the 4V race, Sophia Clarke ’23 coxed her crew of co-captain Katie Gilland – also stroking the boat for her last race as a Rhino – Samantha Gulden ’23, Fiona Zimon ’24, and Fiona Chou ’25. This Taft foursome also got off to a very solid start, earning their spot in a pack with Winsor, Choate, and BBN, ahead of NCDS and Middlesex. Winsor pulled away from the field in the middle 500 of the race, but Taft worked hard to stay close to Choate and BBN through the 1000 meter mark. The Rhinos chased both boats with unflagging energy all the way to the finish line, but ultimately ran out of room before they could catch either of them, and so Taft ended up with a solid fourth-place finish in the race.

The very last race of the day featured Taft’s second-varsity crew, with Brooke Wilcox ’24 staying true to her surname in front of Annie Woodward ’23, Alex Spizzirri ’23, Annabel Izmirlian ’24, and Alexie Blake ’25. The Taft boat went out hard right from the starting dock and never let up against strong competition from CRLS and St. Mark’s. These three crews separated themselves a little bit from FGS and NCDS during the middle 500 meters of the race, with CRLS sneaking out to a lead of about a boat-length. The Rhinos went back-and-forth with the St. Mark’s crew during the last 750 meters as they chased CRLS, who were right in the next lane. The Taft rowers showed tremendous grit in the second half of the race, leaving nothing in the tank as they crossed the finish line less than a second behind SMS, and less than a boat-length in back of CRLS.

Each of Taft’s crews evinced great courage and determination in their race, successfully capping off a season full of great effort, wonderful teamwork, and a fair amount of fun. Graduating only two seniors this year, the Taft girls’ team looks forward to bringing their skills and strength to bear next spring in the next slate of races.

Thanks to all who “came out and supported” Taft crew this spring. You all gave a lift to the girls who rowed through rain and wind and fog and cold in order to train to compete in one of the most demanding interscholastic leagues in the country. We look forward to seeing everyone again next spring.