The 2019 summer rowing season is quickly coming to an end with the North and South Island Secondary School Rowing Championships both held on March 8-10 at Lake Karapiro and Lake Ruataniwha respectively.
There was a total of 2914 competitors from 148 schools taking part, with 1857 of them from 100 schools in the North Island.
Whanganui had four of its five schools competing with only Whanganui City College sending no rowers, largely concentrating on waka ama.
Whanganui Collegiate had the largest complement of rowers and coxswains with 44 in total, entering 37 events.
They made an outstanding 11 A Finals and four B Finals, winning one gold, three silver and four bronze medals, in an impressive day of finals last Sunday.
The medals largely came from their senior squad with head coach Tyler Scott and assistant James Sandston overseeing seven of the eight medals.
The gold medal came from the under-17 coxed quad of Tim Haldane, Blake Hogan, Leo Hanna, Sam Yorsten and cox Bella Stevenson-Watt, after earlier winning silver in the under-18 version of the same race.
These same boys, but with Yorsten out and Jack Norman in, had a close fourth in the boys' under-17 coxed four, while Hanna and Hogan gained bronze in a tight under-17 boys' double final.
The girls' under-17 to 18 group had a very successful regatta, with second-year rower Phoebe Collier winning the most medals with a silver and three bronze.
The consistent girls' under-17 coxed four of Charlotte McKinlay, Collier, Alyana Du Fresne, Charlotte Robb and cox Hugo Dalgleish won silver, while McKinlay, Collier, Robb, second-year rower Ruby Hawley-Wedd and cox Stevenson-Watt won bronze in the under-17 girls' Quad.
Lydia MacLean, Catherine Pearce, Collier, Chloe Lennox and Dalgleish also won bronze in the under-18 quad, ahead of Whanganui High School's Dave Dudley-coached quad of Zeah Brewer, Niamh Monk, Jaimee Bridger, Ella Dudley and cox Campbell Monk.
The last medal for the Collegiate senior rowers came from the girls' under-18 eight of MacLean, Lennox, McKinlay, Pearce, Collier, du Fresene, Robb, Madison Gundry and Dalgleish, in a very satisfying finish to the regatta for Collegiate.
Collegiate's girls under-15 coach Rick Grobecker also won a hard-earned silver medal with his well-trained octuple of Emma Pearce, Tessa Norman, Emily McKinlay, Gretel Murphy, Hanna Kilmister, Annabel Symes, Samantha Hayes, Bridget Jones Long and cox Lucy Monckton.
Pearce, Norman, McKinlay, Murphy and Monckton also got fourth in the under-15 coxed four.
There were other very good performances for Collegiate with second-year rower Joe Hazelhurst tenth overall in the boys' under-16 single and 13th in the boys' under-17 double with Darien Parsons.
The under-16 boys' coxed four of Thomas Pease, Austin Ryan, Davis Robb, Max Woodman and cox Anna Dai was 13th overall.
The top result from the Gillian Blue-coached girls' under-16 group was tenth in the coxed quad with Jaimee Maybery, Holly Lennox, Margie Hazelhurst, Ngatatau Tumango and Stevenson-Watt.
Whanganui High School (WHS) had 28 competitors, racing in 27 events.
They made five A and B Finals but brought home no medals on this occasion.
As already mentioned, their best result was fourth in the girls' under-18 A Final.
Niamh Monk was sixth in the girls' under-18 single and the under-17 coxed quad – with Monk and Bridger out while Mikayla Manville and Niamh Murphy came in – finished seventh.
Their under-15 girls' quad of Georgina Ross, Masina Su'a, Perry's Adam, Danja Grunwald and cox Jemma Tan were 16th, but also came eighth in the under-18 novice quad A Final.
I imagine WHS will be disappointed with no medals and working to peak better for Maadi Cup.
Cullinane College had 12 rowers competing in 13 events, making two A Finals, one B Final and four C Finals.
Second year up-and-coming rower Tomasi Connor was the star – making two A Finals and gaining a seventh in the under-17 boys' single along with sixth with Neo Tichbon in the under-17 boys' double.
Whanganui Girls College had only three rowers entered, with Leigha Stormont 21st overall in the girls' under-17 single, while Stormont and novice rower Aaliyah Grant were 23rd in the under-17 double.
It should be remembered how hard the small boat events like singles, doubles and pairs are.
Some of them, like the boys' under-17 single, have 60 entries, which is likely to be close to 80 at Maadi Cup.
Schools and coaches will now make final decisions about entries for the week-long Maadi Cup, NZ Secondary School Rowing Champs at Lake Karapiro, March 25-30.
Upward of 2000 entries are expected, with only two singles, one double and four overall events per rower allowed, to keep the regatta manageable.
Excitement will be building along with tiredness among these dedicated school rowers and their coaches and I expect to be reporting on a hard but generally successful Maadi Cup in my next column.