Paly rowers place high at international regatta

Chloe Fishman, Author

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Palo Alto High School rowers headed home after placing in the top-20 in each of their races at the Head of the Charles regatta in Boston leaving big shoes for next year’s rowers to fill.

The Paly rowers represented Norcal Crew at the 49th anniversary of the largest Fall regatta in the nation last Sunday, Oct. 20. The Head of the Charles (HOCR)  includes events for rowers in youth, collegiate, college alumni, club, championship, masters, grand-masters and veterans categories. High schoolers to Olympians to senior citizens compete in the 5,000-meter race.

According to the HOCR results page,  Norcal raced a women’s youth four, placing 17th out of 85 crews from around the United States, Canada and Great Britain . The girls finished with a time of 20:23.149, which was relatively close to the winning time of 19:18.813 from Holy Names Academy based in Seattle.

Three Paly girls represented the women’s team, including juniors Zoe Bhargava, Christine Langston and senior Becca Althoff along with Carlmont High School senior Jessica Levesque, Gunn High School senior Janet Titzler and Menlo-Atherton High School senior Katie Kelly.

“I loved it,” Langston said when asked about the regatta experience. “It was so cool to be rowing on the same water as Olympic athletes and see such great rowers competing.”

“We were super proud of getting 17th place — 17th seems pretty far down, its not 1st or 2nd, but looking at it as 17th out of 85 crews, or the entire country is pretty amazing,” Langston continued. “It was a great race with lots of excitement because we passed three different crews.”

Norcal raced a boat in the men’s youth four category, which placed 17th out of 85 crews.

Paly boys who raced in the four include juniors John Carter, Misha Hinder-Nelson and senior James Hindery-Nelson. The rest of the boat was completed by Aragon High School senior coxswain Miles Bowman and Menlo-Atherton High School senior Will Carhart. This was a fast crew, finishing with a time of 18:05.297, which was  less than a minute behind the winning crew with the time of 17:10.976 from Long Beach Junior Crew based in Southern California. Last year at the regatta, the Norcal men’s four came in 4th place.

“[I] felt a little disappointed, because we were expecting to do better,” Carter said. “It was awesome — the river is really scenic.”

The Norcal men also raced a youth eight, placing 18th out of 85 crews. They finished with a time of 16:17.683. The winning crew raced the course with a time of 15:23.532 from Marin Rowing Association based in Marin, Calif. Juniors Marcelo Buxton, Chris Skokowski, Jaisel Sandhu, Clark Harmon and senior Markus Burns represented Paly in the boat. The other athletes included Menlo-Atherton High School sophomore Thomas Fuller and senior Sam Calvert; Summit Preparatory Charter High School junior Kurt Songer; Carlmont High School senior Chandler Kowtko; and Cupertino High School senior Alex Wallis.

Allison Frykman, a physics teacher at Paly and alumna of the Paly Class of 2002, also raced in the regatta. She is the executive director and women’s head coach of Norcal Crew and used to row for Norcal, then called Silicon Valley Crew, in high school. She participated in the Women’s Alumni Eights category last Saturday as part of the Stanford Women’s Crew Alumni. The boat placed 6th out of 35 crews.

Norcal Crew left Boston with a positive attitude about the results of the race. They posted the following message on Facebook:

“Wrapped up the Head of the Charles, and the team is in the airport for the trip home. It was a wonderful regatta with gorgeous weather, great food, tremendous atmosphere, and amazing family support. The women’s four placed placed 17th out of 85 entries, the men’s four placed 17th our of 84 entries, and the men’s eight placed 18th out of 85 entries. All boats were well in the top 1/4 of their races, and requalified for next year. All in all, it was Norcal’s best HOCR ever!!”

Due to Norcal’s place in at least the top half of each event, the team earned a spot at next year’s Head of the Charles regatta.