Three BA-B crews among top 15 at nationals; Buchovecky and Scornavacca are fifth in nation

Three boats from the Bromfield Acton-Boxborough crew team raced in the USRowing Youth National Championships in Sarasota, Florida, June 6 through 9, finishing fifth, 10th, and 15th.

The athletes battled sweltering heat and humidity, along with stiff competition from around the country, at the world-class facility at Nathan Benderson Park. After four days on the 2,000-meter man-made course, Bromfield’s Benjamin Buchovecky and Stefan Scornavacca were the fifth fastest mens youth pair in America. The womens youth 4—Harvard rower Anna Shlimak in the stroke seat with Acton rowers Summer Maxwell, Katherine Fay, and Kaylee Liu and coxswain Sila Inanoglu—ranked 10th. Mens youth lightweight pair Christopher Clark and Kevin Yu of Harvard finished 15th. Acton’s Molly O’Neill traveled with the team as an alternate rower and provided critical race support.

The showing was especially impressive for a public school team, said rowing program director and girls varsity coach Holly Hatton. Two of the three BA-B boats clocked the fastest finish by a public school team among a plethora of private school and club teams. “To have three boats there was a really big deal,” she said. “Overall we just really represented. These athletes are role models. I hope they will inspire more of their teammates to want to be a part of that experience.”

Bromfield senior Ben Buchovecky and junior Stefan Scornavacca pose for a photo after placing fifth in the nation. (Courtesy photo)

Buchovecky and Scornavacca finished third in Thursday’s time trial, raising their hopes for a medal. In a pair, there’s no coxswain to steer; the rowers must steer with their feet. During their semifinal, the BA-B pair ran into trouble, turning cattywampus in their lane and then regaining their heading. But they rowed so fast they still qualified for the grand final Sunday. At the regional championship in May, Brookline High School had edged out the pair by half a second; in their semifinal at nationals, BA-B beat Brookline by 18 seconds. In Sunday’s final, the pair laid down their best race in a choppy lane. “They executed very well,” said their coach, Brian DeDominici. “They’d get 20 strokes in and then catch a digger, or be walking on another boat and catch a bad stroke. But they rowed the fastest they had in them that day.” The pair finished fifth in the nation—no medal, but an impressive feat for a team that trains on a pond where the longest straightaway is 1,500 meters.

A pivotal trial

The Thursday time trial proved pivotal for the girls in the 4. The top nine finishers would go on to a semifinal with two heats of six. Those finishing tenth or lower got a second chance, or “repechage,” on Friday; one winner from each of three heats would also earn a berth in the semi. On Thursday, BA-B finished 10th by three 10th of a second, forcing them to race again Friday. They won their repechage heat decisively. “They totally owned that race,” Hatton said. In Saturday’s semifinal, they were the only ones in their heat who had raced twice already in the debilitating 90-degree humid Florida air. “They rowed a very courageous race, putting the hammer down in the middle,” Hatton said, but they ran out of gas. “They put everything out there and they had nothing more to give.” Coming in fifth, the girls qualified for the B final Sunday. In that race they finished fourth, putting them 10th overall in the USA.

Clark and Yu finished 16th in the time trials; the times for boats 12 through 16 were all within two seconds. “It was really competitive,” Hatton said. In their repechage Friday, the BA-B lightweight double dug deep after the halfway point, pulling out in front and pushing the entire field to go faster, DeDominici said; they crossed the line fifth out of seven in a tight finish. “It was a brave move that didn’t result in them advancing, but I think they left it all out on the race course and had their best race for the day,” said DeDominici. Clark and Yu ended up in 15th place overall­—one boat faster than their initial time trial place. “It was a good week and everyone performed to where they should be or a little bit above,” DeDominici said.

Hatton concurred. “I couldn’t have asked for more,” she said. “We were rowing against clubs with significantly more in terms of training facilities. We took another step and we’re getting in the mix.”

USRowing Youth National Championship results

  • Mens youth pair: Stefan Scornavacca and Benjamin Buchovecky, 5th; 7:09.300
  • Womens youth 4+: Kaylee Liu, Katherine Fay, Summer Maxwell, Anna Shlimak, and coxswain Sila Inanoglu, 10th; 7:23.766
  • Mens youth lightweight double: Kevin Yu and Christopher Clark, 15th; 7:03.606

The Bare Hill Rowing Association will offer Learn to Row sessions in July. In five one-hour classes you will learn terminology, boat basics, how to navigate, refine your stroke, and have practice time sculling in stable, flat-bottomed boats. The courses cost $175; visit barehillrowing.com/summer for more information.

Jill Maxwell is the parent of two B-AB rowers.

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