Manhasset crew team wins two silver medals in National Championship
The Manhasset High School crew team was thinking triple crown long before it became a horse racing buzzword on Long Island.
After having won gold with at least one boat in the New York State Scholastic Championship, Stotesbury Cup Regatta and the National Schools' Championship Regatta for the last two years, the Indians were after the trey.
Senior captains Mari Catherine Gillis and Keagan Hanley led the girls' varsity 4-plus and girls' lightweight varsity 4-plus to the trifecta last month, but the medals didn't stop there.
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Hanley captained the girls' lightweight varsity 4-plus and girls' lightweight varsity double squads to two additional silver medals on placid water in the USRowing Youth National Championship, which wrapped in Rancho Cordova, Calif., last Sunday.
"In the double, [the feeling] was just awe," Hanley said. The double boat made its Manhasset program debut this year at the state regatta.
"I never expected to even take that lineup to the national level," Hanley said. The fact that we medaled was so surreal. We've medaled in the past in the lightweight 4, but that win was -- it's still -- there's no other word but 'awesome.' I'm so lucky to have medaled there because it's so competitive.
"The West Coast teams are really strong because they can practice from early March. They have great weather and water all the time."
The lightweight varsity 4-plus finished at 7:59 while the double clocked 8:04.2.
Hanley, at 5-5, is committed to Stanford for rowing. She also swims in the fall alongside lightweight varsity double teammate Sarah Henry, who is bound for UPenn rowing.
Coach Hugo Guardado-Henriquez, in his sixth season, believes the popularity of crew is surging because more colleges offer it as a sport.
"In my last six years, we only had about 20 rowers, and we have gone from 20 to 80," he said. "It is a very highly demanding sport at the college level and many kids have got -- 90 percent of our kids have got recruited into college."
Those rigors and demands start at the high school level. The Manhasset team practices at Hempstead Harbor in Port Washington as often as five days per week for three hours each session. It's seven days of work when regattas take up the weekend.
Manhasset ranks as an elite crew team among locals such as St. Anthony's, Chaminade, and the Long Island Rowing Club. Teams from Albany and Saratoga provide the toughest in-state competition.
"It's becoming a sport that people notice," said Gillis, who will row for the University of Louisville. "It's not that sport anymore that people go, 'oh, that was on the Olympics.' It connects [with] people more often than you think, and it's a sport that anyone has the ability to do."