NEWBURGH – For rowing teams, October is the heart of the "Head Season" or the long endurance-based rowing races. On October 6, 2013, the Newburgh Rowing Club sent crews to the Hudson Valley Brickyard 5000 in Haverstraw, NY and the Head of the Riverfront in Hartford, CT. The decision to split the team paid off, as the crews returned with 5 Gold Medals from Brickyard, 5 Silver Medals from Hartford, and the youngest rower ever to medal at Riverfront, Paris Liston, took home the Bronze.
"I could not be more proud of each and every one of our rowers who participated in both Regattas," said Newburgh Rowing Club Programs Director, Coach Ed Kennedy. "Our young rowers competed in some of the worst rowing conditions ever. There was a torrential downpour in Hartford, and in Haverstraw, the Hudson River was roiling, and sinking boats. To simply complete the course without flipping your crew shell makes you a champion in my books. The fact that we got any medals at all is simply amazing."
"The conditions at Brickyard were unbelievable," said Team Mom LoBiondo, who accompanied a crew down to Haverstraw. "This meet included North Rockland Rowing Club, St. John’s the Baptist Rowing Club, St. Joseph’s Rowing Club, and Manhattan College, among others, some of the best crews around. The Hudson was rolling and whitecapping as I have never seen it before. They kept shortening the course and at one point, had canceled our 4+ race. No less than six boats sank and their crews had to be rescued. My son, Michael, age 9, the coxswain of the Boys 4+, was literally floating in the ‘bucket’. The boat took on water but the boys never panicked. They were up against two other boats. One boat pulled out due to the conditions. Our boat beat the remaining crew by several minutes and took Gold. I really could not be more proud of all of them, as well as all the parents, coaches, and helpers who came down with us."
In giving out the medals, the Head Coach of the North Rockland Rowing Club, Coach Jerry Rodriguez, said, "In all my years of coaching and rowing, I can honestly say, this is the absolute worst I have ever seen the Hudson River. I say this to each of you: be proud, because if you can row under these conditions today, you can row anywhere in the world."
Up at Hartford, the Mixed Open 4x, consisting of Jessie Dennis, Nadia Delisfot, Ben Jendrejeske, and Matt Wynne, took Silver, missing Gold by a very small margin.
Also at Hartford, Doug Indzonka, age 16, took the Silver medal in the Men’s Open 1x. Paris Liston, age 9, took Bronze in that meet. Liston was the youngest rower to ever medal in the Men’s Open 1x at Hartford, and he was rowing the oldest crew shell in the meet, a 40-year old wooden shell which has become Liston’s racing vessel of choice.
"It was a great moment," said Coach Kennedy, "when Paris crossed the finish line, a huge roar went up from the entire crowd. They were cheering for Paris because he was the youngest but also because he embodies the very spirit of rowing: never say I can’t, never give up."