It hasn’t been an easy season for the Avon High crew team. Athletes have missed time after positive tests for COVID-19, making it a challenge to keep teams together and moving forward.
The team had limited time on the water the last two weeks when they had to stop practicing at Battiston Park in Farmington. The exemption that the program had for a motor-powered safety boat to accompany the crews practicing on the water was denied.
When the team headed out on Saturday to participate in the 23rd annual Connecticut Public School Rowing Association (CPSRA) championships at Lake Waramaug in New Preston, the truck used to tow the boats broke down at 5:30 a.m., according to head coach John Kostal.
“As luck would have it, after reporting our issue to the Avon Police Department, the responding officer, Officer Poulin, turned out to be the police department’s liaison to the Avon Department of Public Works,” Kostal said. “Working with Alex Trujillo of the DPW, we were able to get a replacement truck that allowed us to arrive at Lake Waramaug in New Preston just in time to avoid missing our first race.”
The Falcons made the trip worthwhile. Avon won their first state championship in Boys Varsity Four (four rowers and one coxswain in the shell) with a seven-second win over Lyme/Old Lyme on Saturday at Lake Waramaug.
In the Girls Varsity Four, Avon finished second behind a dominant Lyme/Old Lyme shell that won the race by more than 21 seconds.
In the Second Boys Varsity Four, Avon earned a medal by finishing third, finishing behind Lewis Mills and Glastonbury.
“Once the racing started, our crews performed resiliently,” Kostal said.
The boys varsity four, composed of seniors Dalton Charbonneau, Ian Doukas, Dylan Nickel, Eric Wilken, and Colin O’Connor, had a strong start and never trailed as they finished the 1,500-meter course first with a time of 5:40.0, beating Lyme/Old Lyme by over seven seconds.
The previous best finish for the Boys Varsity Four was third place in 2019.
The team becomes the second Avon High crew to win a CPSRA state championship. The Falcons won the Girls Varsity Four championship in 2013.
On Saturday, Avon’s Girls Varsity Four, composed of seniors Lily Kunkel, Katrina Melnik, Nadine Schmitt, Arya Singh, and junior Bridget Harris, finished second to a strong crew from Lyme/Old Lyme with a time of 6:21.4. It was the seventh straight time that Lyme/Old Lyme won the girls varsity four, dating back to 2014.
The 2020 and 2021 state championship regattas were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Boys Second Varsity Four, composed of seniors Jack Gouveia and Maxwell Virone, junior Michael Gouveia, and sophomores Abhi Poddar and Emily Weldon, medaled by finishing third in their event.
In the Varsity Eight races, the Avon girls won the Petite (consolation) race with a 23-second win over E.O. Smith with a time of 6:02.9. In the Boys Varsity Eight Petite, race, Avon was third in 5:36.4. In Varsity Eight, there are eight rowers and one coxswain.
In the Perry Plate competition, awarded to the school with the most points in the four races, Lyme/Old Lyme won the plate with 74 points, but Avon was second with 58 points. The Falcons were also second in the Perry Plate competition in 2015, 2015 and 2016.
Glastonbury beat Stonington by a little under three seconds to win the Girls Varsity Eight race with a winning time of 5:15.9 for the Guardians first state title since 2018. Stonington was second in 5:22.1
In the Boys Varsity Eight, Simsbury won the championship for the fifth time in the last six events dating back to 2014. The Trojans finished with a time of 4:40.7 to beat Stonington (4:42.7).
2022 Connecticut Public School Rowing Association
At New Preston, Conn. (Lake Waramaug)
Girls Varsity 8, final: Glastonbury 5:15.9 for 1,500 meters, Stonington 5:22.1, East Lyme 5:21.6, Farmington 5:29.3, Simsbury 5:31.5
Boys Varsity 8, final: Simsbury 4:40.7 for 1,500 meters, Stonington 4:42.7, East Lyme 4:44.7, Lyme/Old Lyme 4:49.1, Glastonbury 4:51.8
Girls Varsity 4, final: Lyme/Old Lyme 5:59.9 for 1,500 meters, Avon 6:21.4, Middletown 6:25.3, Glastonbury 6:30.2, Stonington 6:30.0
Boys Varsity 4, final: Avon 5:40.0 for 1,500 meters, Lyme/Old Lyme 5:47.5, Valley Regional 5:51.7, East Lyme 6:00.7, Lewis Mills 6:07.4