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Five state golds for Manhasset crew team

Manhasset crew rowed on through the New York State Championship Regatta in Saratoga last weekend, earning five state championships and nine medals overall, continuing its steady command of the waters among local crew teams.

Manhasset won the girls lightweight 4-plus in 6:19.90, the boys junior-8 in 5:11.30, the girls junior-4 in 6:12.10 and the boys freshmen-8 in 5:51.60. The team's girls lightweight-8 squad finished third, but took home the school's fifth state title of the weekend since the two teams that finished ahead of it were ineligible because of their varsity status.

Manhasset will send all nine of its medal-winning boats to the Scholastic Rowing Academy of America National Championship, an East Coast regional competition May 26 in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Bay Shore was the only other Long Island high school to win a gold medal, winning the girls junior-8 in 6:17.80, and will also compete at the SRAA nationals.

"We do have an amazing team," Manhasset coach Hugo Guardado said. "We have kids here who row in the fall, summer, spring and winter and it's that commitment and dedication that makes the difference."

Manhasset has improved over the last four seasons, anchored by its senior captains Justine Yunakove and Stefan Hummel. The team has had one gold medal boat in each of the last four NYS Championship Regattas, but the five gold medals this year was a team high.

"It's really exciting to see because when I started four years ago, we had maybe one state champion a year, but now the team is growing and it's unbelievable what the rowers have been able to accomplish," Yunakove said.

Manhasset's boys and girls 4-plus lightweight boats, which both Hummel and Yunakove row in, also earned their second consecutive bid to the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships as senior class boats that finished in the top two at the state championships. Boats from Friends Academy, Our Lady of Mercy, Chaminade and Riverhead also received bids to nationals, which begin June 8 in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Manhasset's girls 4-plus lightweight earned a silver medal at Youth Nationals last year, and the boys boat took seventh place. Both squads are excited for the opportunity to better last year's results.

"Going to Youth Nationals is the most amazing racing experience you can possibly have," Hummel said. "There's so much respect among everyone there and you get recognized because everyone knows who you are and what you've done and no one takes you lightly."

For Bay Shore, the one gold medal at states was its first in the 15-year program history, according to coach Liz Brennan.

"The fact that we did so well is unbelievable," Brennan said. "We're only a varsity sport in the spring where other schools row in the fall and winter, so the fact that we can compete with those kids is pretty cool."

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