St. Paul's boys find it lonely at the top

Crusaders field only male varsity team in the area

May 03, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

For the boys at St. Paul's, the Baltimore Championships offer the only challenge to their status as the top high school boys crew in the area.

Of course, except for Sunday, when Gilman races for the first time all season, the Crusaders have been the only boys rowing team in town.

The Crusaders usually have to hit the road to Washington or Philadelphia, where they row against much tougher competition from programs that have been around for 20 years or longer.

"It would be nice if Gilman or Boys' Latin had a serious team, but we can live without it," said Crusaders junior Alex Cook, who has been rowing for three years with the Baltimore Rowing Club.

"We usually pick out one school in D.C. or Philly [as a rival], but the competition isn't as intense. When I played lacrosse or football, it was, `OK, that's Gilman. You have to beat them. There's just no choice.' That's where it'd be nice to have a local rival. When you're racing somebody you know, you bring out the intensity a lot."

The Crusaders have had a varsity program for two years under coach Judd Anderson, and David Doherty has helped keep Gilman's program afloat as a club team for five years.

Doherty, who rowed as a student at Cambridge in England, said lacrosse, baseball and track are too dominant at Gilman to draw a large crew contingent.

Both teams are looking forward to Sunday's varsity eights race at 9:15 a.m., but the Crusaders have learned to focus on only one opponent.

"It's really a race against the clock," said sophomore Eric Grosshandler, a first-year rower.

"If we row a five-minute race and the next time we go out and row 4:40, that's an accomplishment. Racing against time, you can feel a sense of accomplishment even though you don't necessarily come in first."

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