Wappingers crew wins Hudson Valley Rowing title after COVID-19 hiatus

Much of the work was done two years ago, away from the water and well beyond any spotlight. There was an active group chat and even the routine Zoom meetings, which served as virtual hangouts.

It was imperative then, coach Matt Stufano said,[thathisWappingerscrewteamatleastkeepintouchandremainengagedThehopeofcoursewasthatnoneofthemwouldloseinterestinthesportduringthehiatus

As it became clear in spring 2020 how far from normalcy the pandemic would force us to drift, there was the realization that a canceled scholastic sports season would be among the unpleasant changes.

“It was devastating, especially for the upperclassmen,” Stufano said. “And the younger kids were nervous, not knowing if their remaining high school seasons would be taken away, too.”

It was especially frustrating because of the potential of the Wappingers youngsters had shown the previous two years. That core first stood out as novices and later excelled in the freshman races in 2019, those glimpses generated excitement and lofty expectations for the upcoming seasons.

Nature then robbed them of two.

That’s why last Saturday, the scene at the Hudson River Rowing Association boathouse was frenzied as the athletes ran, jumped and shouted giddyly, allowing themselves an outpouring of about three years’ worth of emotion.

That, Stufano said, “was so cool to see.”

Past success: Wappingers boys crew wins team title at HRRL championships

2019 season: Poughkeepsie girls crew wins state title, places at nationals

Spackenkill Soaring: The Spartans represent Dutchess County in baseball state final four

The Wappingers boys won the Hudson Valley Rowing League championship, with three boats taking first place, to cap a sterling season in which that potential finally had a chance to be fulfilled.

The Wappingers boys rowing team, flanked by coaches Jason Miller and Matt Stufano on the left and Calista Nicholson on the right, poses after winning the Hudson Valley Rowing League championship on June 4, 2022.

The girls team, coached by Elizabeth Schlusser, placed second overall, behind Suffern. Its varsity eight was a winner, though.

“Crossing that finish line for their last race, there was that somber feeling like, ‘This is it,'” Stufano said of his senior-laden team, whose high school careers were essentially halved. “But there was a lot of excitement. The joy of accomplishing what they did overwhelmed that feeling of finality.”

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