Schoolgirl Head of the River

More exciting times for Radford rowers at  the Head of River regatta

More exciting times for Radford rowers at the Head of River regatta

By Charlotte Cross, Rowing Gap Student

On Friday, 2 March 2018, 50 athletes travelled to the Olympic Lake in Penrith, Sydney to compete in the Schoolgirl Head of the River. After weeks of hard work, it was time for the girls’ squad to show what they were made of, following the boys’ outstanding performance last week. For the majority of the athletes, this would be the main event of the year; nerves were flying around but we could also sense a real buzz and excitement as the girls prepared themselves for the most important race of the season.

Firstly, the Year 8 ‘Paddler Squad’ boated four crews into various quadruple scull divisions. The top three quads put in strong performances down the course qualifying for the A final, while the fourth-ranked quad narrowly missed out on an A Final but posted one of the fastest non-qualifying times across all divisions to clinch a spot in the B Final – an awesome feat for this crew. In the finals, all four crews burst out of the start and were in the top three to four places in the first 500 metres of the races, but slipped back in the second half of the races to miss out on the podium.  All boats rowed extremely well, just needing to work a little more on fitness over the coming year. With this being the first time down the course for the majority, all competitors should be proud of their performances as they can build upon this to hopefully push for those podium spots coming into next season.

Moving onto the Junior Squad, a double scull of Niamh Pascoe and Siobhan MacLeod narrowly missed out on a silver medal, after a fight to the finish, and took home the bronze. Following this successful result in the double, the Junior Girl’s quad consisting of Hannah Vardy, Danielle Buckman, Isabelle Morrison, Kiara Shaw and cox Beth Armstrong managed a Silver Medal in Division 7 with big Personal Best time of 4:02. These results are a great achievement for such a small squad and should encourage the girls to keep up the good work, carrying through to next season.

The Intermediate Squad had a total of three events they were competing in - Division 2 coxed quad scull, Division 1 double scull and the Year 10 single scull. Their biggest crew, the quad of Jacinta Davies, Alex Jarrett, Tilly Stanier, Ella O’Neil and Lilly Clode, rowed their best race and unfortunately missed out on a place but still stayed in touch until the finish line, an admirable effort in the tough Division 2 competition.Our double of Lissie Gregory and Charlotte McCarthy brought the pain with a fast start in their 1500-metre final. Maintaining their position throughout the race, they finished in third place, bringing home bronze for Radford. Last, but by no means least, Claire Hughes raced her single in the second heat and fought relentlessly for positions with Cranebrook and MLC school crews in a heated battle down the course. While the medals won by Lissie and Charlotte are a highlight for the weekend, the most important moment from our perspective was when every girl in the squad raced onto the pontoon to congratulate Claire on a brave performance, after chasing her down the course cheering her on.

Finally, onto the Senior Girls’ Squad. Lucy McGowan was up in the single scull Division 1 category. Lucy displayed a very courageous performance, battling it out with a few crews including those from Loreto Kirribili and Armidale School. In a very tough division, Lucy missed out on a spot in the final, gaining seventh place in her heat. She should be very proud of how she approached the race, finishing off her season on a positive note. Later on in the day it was time for the three Senior quads to take on the wrath of the Olympic Course. The A quad breezed through their heat finishing 1st and putting them in good stead for the final. The B and C quad had a straight final in the division 2 category with both crews having a successful row- the combination of Lydia Murray, Maddy Dyne, Alison Barclay, Tash Erb and Samantha Blake came out on top of the podium 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the field with Bobbi Sayers, Elise Northcote, Thea Buckman, Emily Naumann and Sophia Tan gaining fifth place after a battle for the bronze medal. This crew put in a brave performance finishing within one second of the Canberra Girls Grammar crew, who went away with the bronze. After this strong display, Radford’s last race of the day was the Division 1 Senior Girls quad final. A huge amount of support was shown by all athletes as they were cheered onto the pontoon. The combination of Nikki Greenland, Annie Creer, Jacinta Buckman, Lily Smith-Saarinen and Spencer Burns came away with Gold, crossing the line with a 12-second lead.

In addition to the successful display at Penrith, back on Lake Burley Griffin, the boys’ crews took part in the ACT State Championships. Radford gained two championship titles from the Under 19 coxed quad of John Bake, Mig Fernandez, Fin Sullivan, Daniel Majchrzak and cox Paddy Morrison along with Sam Roberts in the Under 16 single scull. Radford finished 1-2 in this Under 16 scull event with Ethan Toscan clinching Silver right behind Sam. Radford finished off the day with two Golds, five Silvers and one Bronze from the State Championships. Well done boys!

As the season comes to a close ALL athletes should be proud of their performances. The teamwork and support within the shed creates a wonderful environment and community to be a part of. One last push for the handful of crews going to the National Championships and those competing at Head of the Lake. Congratulations to all and a huge thank you to the parents and coaching team for making this all possible.

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