Before the members of the New Canaan crew 4x team went their separate ways for college, they had one last piece of unfinished business to take care of at the USRowing Youth National Championships. "It was our last race for our coach and our program,'' Charlie Kelly said. "We wanted to go out with a bang."
That they did. The team of Kelly, Will Danneman, Roger Stone and Aaron Tas won the 4x at the national meet in Cincinnati. The team finished undefeated in the spring, and set a meet record in the race of 6:06.862. All four rowers will compete for different college teams beginning in the fall.
"It was the culmination of years of hard work,'' says Roger, who will row for Columbia. Kelly (Princeton) and Tas (University of Pennsylvania) will also attend Ivy League colleges. Danneman will jet west to Stanford University.
Before they could turn their attention to college, however, the rowers focused on winning the national meet. This spring was the first time all four rowed together in one boat. After a strong start, some tension cropped up midway through the season. "We had some differences in what we were doing,'' Will says. Added Kelly: "We were feeling a little down halfway through the season."
The team resolved its differences and continued to excel on the water. After winning the regional competition in May, the New Canaan team earned the top seed through trials at nationals. "We felt dominant,'' Kelly said. "There was a point halfway down the course when we realized we weren't at top speed yet and we were still winning. Once we got halfway through the race, we knew no one can touch our sprint." New Canaan won in 6:06.862, about six seconds ahead of Lake Union.
With its season over, the young men are savoring downtime for the first time since they began rowing. They are also basking in their success as national champions. Says Charlie: "I feel like we're on top of the world."
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