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ArlingtonSportsWakefield crew program growing into champions

Wakefield crew program growing into champions

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For the Wakefield Warriors High School crew program, success has come in increasing numbers during recent seasons.

As the size of the team has swelled significantly, varsity eight and other shells have started placing much higher in regattas, including a watermark standout performance May 14 at the Virginia State Scholastic Rowing Championships at Sandy Run Regional Park on the Occuquan River.

The girls successfully defended their title, winning in 5:07, with the boys finishing first in their event for the first time (4:32).

This season’s Wakefield crew teams, boys and girls, had more than 100 members in total. When David Noyes took over as the program’s head coach five years ago, there were around 40 total, with none of the shells seriously in the mix to win a race.


“The biggest thing was getting students to know that crew is an option as a sport and a good thing to do,” Noyes said. “We have reached out to a lot of students of all backgrounds about joining the program, including going to the middle schools and holding crew events there.”

Bill Gillen is the crew program’s booster-club vice president. He has seen the program grow leaps and bounds during his involvement.

“The number of rowers have exploded in a short time. David Noyes set a tone and vision when he took over as head coach to get many more involved, and that has happened,” Gillen said. “There is a lot of diversity on the team. Even during the pandemic, rowers were getting involved.”

Gillen explained it’s interesting now to hear what outsiders say about the Wakefield program, compared to the past when nothing at all was mentioned.

“Now we have targets on our backs as the teams to beat,” Gillen said.

Noyes said his rowers have embraced that reference and continue to work hard, as they awake early on weekday mornings to train before school at the Anacostia Boathouse in Washington, D.C.

“Our kids don’t back down from anyone in competition, and they are always ready to go,” he said. “This is a talented group. Success begets success.”

Members of Wakefield’s winning girls varsity eight shell at the state meet were Emery Moore, Eva Panfil, Meaghan Leahy, Kate Gillen, Natalie Kaldahl, Grace Wellington, Amelia Katula, Gia Enderle and Lily Branch.

Those in the winning boys varsity eight were Sara Arango-Rojas (coxswain), Soren Henkle, Daniel Lynn, Derek Cushman, Mac Fuqua, Josiah Mou, Alex Duall, Daniel Johnson and Mateo Stronberg.

Also at the state meet, Wakefield’s girls second eight finished first, consisting of Gabby Valencia, Mira Meek, Tara Udani, Sarah Middleton, Abby Berner, Kate Galazin, Audra Rissmeyer, Mathilde Leblond and Evelyn Watkins.

The girls freshman eight won, as well, with Rex Tellez, Mia Kim, Siena Kaya Nesmith, Lauren Bissett, Isabelle Young-Smith, Melissa Castrillon, Hannah Driscoll, Clara Owen and Elise Rickard.

Wakefield’s team captains are Kate Gillen, Leahy, Henkle and Fuqua.

NOTES: Including the two varsity eights, Wakefield qualified five shells for the upcoming national championship regatta. The girls second eight and girls and boys freshman eights are the other qualifiers . . . Also at the state regatta, the Yorktown High girls varsity four won, Yorktown’s girls junior four was first, the Washington-Liberty boys quad was third, Yorktown’s boys varsity eight was fourth and Wakefield’s second eight was fourth.

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