Sectionals a stepping stone for crew teams

The Section II Rowing Championships don't work the same way other Sectional events work.

While the two-day event does determine the top teams in the region, it does not serve as a qualifier for the state championships. That's because the state rowing championships is an open invitational.

The reason why we go through the motions (of holding Sectionals) is 60 percent bragging rights and 40 percent to prepare for tougher competitions (like states), said Niskayuna crew coach Matt Hopkins.

Boats representing 12 Section II schools, a private school, the Albany Rowing Center and Mohawk Homeschool competed at last weekend's Section II championships on the Mohawk River between Niskayuna and Rexford. Medals were handed out to the top three place finishers in 28 events.

"Sectionals mean a lot because Section II is so strong," said Hopkins, whose Niskayuna team racked up 12 medals including three first-place finishes.

Most of the varsity races followed trends established over the last several years. Saratoga dominated the girls races, while Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake took first place in several boys events.

"Saratoga on the girls' side is very strong. They've won the last five state team titles," said Hopkins. "And Burnt Hills on the boys' side is very strong.

They've medaled at states the last few years."

Niskayuna was strong in the novice/freshman boys division. The novice 8-plus-coxswain boat of Nate Hoffman, Alex Koste, Theodore Dalakos, Andy Patt, William Koch, Alex Dwyer, Luke Olson, Kyle Matuszyk and Todd Whitmarsh won its Saturday race in a time of 5:52.54. Nate Wiegman, Nick Wolfe, Lucas LoRe and Eric Powzyk took first place in Friday's novice/freshman 4x race with a time of 6:10.06, and the duo of Eli Feenan and Zack Wistort won the novice/freshman 2x title in a time of 6:30.16.

The top varsity finish for Niskayuna was a second-place performance in the top division of the women's 8-plus-coxswain event. The team of Ariel Nathan, Sarah Grifferty, Barbara Prescott, Haley Sive, Amanda Barmash, Lesley Cutting, Sara Corderman, Elizabeth DeBlock and Jenna Lohre finished with a time of 6:05.69, 21 seconds behind first-place Saratoga.

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