Ranney Rower Reigns Victorious at Stotesbury Regatta
Just before heading off to Harvard University this upcoming fall, Ranney senior Craig Slater of Tinton Falls once again found success out on the water, as he won a John B. Kelly Award at the 86th annual Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this past weekend.
“Winning the Stotesbury Regatta is a huge accomplishment and honor,” said Ranney School Director of Athletics Thomas Moriau.
Since its origination in 1927, the Stotesbury Regatta has become one of the largest and oldest high school rowing competitions in the world, and now hosts 28 championship events over a two-day period. Approximately 200 high schools consisting of 5,000 total athletes with 900 boats competed in more than 130 races on the Schuylkill River at this year’s Regatta. While many schools participated using eights and quads, and fours and doubles throughout the event, Craig spent May 18 and 19 rowing singles for Ranney.
Following a preliminary Men’s Senior Single race on Friday morning, Craig, along with 17 other boats, then moved on to the semi-finals, where there were three heats. After finishing second with a time of 5:05.17 in his heat, — just six one hundredths of a second from earning first place — Craig managed to secure a spot within the top lane in heat two of the semi-finals on Saturday morning. Having won his semi-final race in 5:14.34, Craig then moved on to the finals on Saturday afternoon, where he competed for the very prestigious John B. Kelly Award. Established in 1935, the John B. Kelly Award honors one of the most accomplished American oarsmen in the history of rowing, John B. Kelly, Sr., whose credentials range from being a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist to winning 126 races in Single Scull.
Vying for first against six rowers in the finals, Craig took gold with a time of 5:07.83 — the event’s third fastest time ever acquired (the fastest time of 5:04.16 was obtained by John Lorton of Seattle, Washington in 1998)! “Rowing is a sport that gives you back exactly what you put in. If you’re out on the water watching the sun come up and working as hard as you can, this sport will reward you for that,” said Craig in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Craig received his trophy from John Kelly’s very own grandson at an awards ceremony later in the evening. While receiving this award marks one of the highest accomplishments a high school rower can attain, Craig is also commended for other successes seen throughout his final year with Ranney’s crew program. Aside from representing his country at the Junior World Championships in Eton, Great Britain, where he broke two ultra-distance world records last summer, Craig has earned additional recognition under the tutelage of both Ranney School and the Navesink River Rowing Club since then.
Not only did Craig become a New Jersey State Scholastic Singles Champion after winning his 1500-meter race in a time of 5:22.10 at the New Jersey State Scholastic Championships on April 28, but he also took home a gold medal and the Allen Rosenberg Trophy with a time of 7:29.03 in a 2000-meter event — six seconds ahead of the next fastest rower — during the Cooper Cup Regatta just one day later.
Once again rowing a 2000-meter course, Craig earned another title as USRowing Mid-Atlantic District Junior Champion in Men’s Single Sculling two short weeks later as well. Craig is also expected to compete amongst other high school rowers throughout the country during the USRowing Youth National Championships in Oak Ridge, Tennessee this June.
Craig first took up the sport of rowing with the introduction of Ranney’s varsity crew program in 2009. A former basketball and baseball player, Craig soon discovered his newfound love for being out on the water. “I have watched Craig develop and mature over the years,” said Head of School Lawrence S. Sykoff, Ed.D. “When a student is in the right school, surrounded by the right people who believe in his potential and promise, that is a winning game plan,” he added.
Since choosing to pursue a career in rowing, Craig has seen many opportunities for academic and athletic advancement, and has matured into what Ranney believes to be the ideal scholar-athlete. “I visited Harvard when I was in sixth grade and knew I wanted to go there, but I never would have had the opportunity without rowing,” said Craig, who will row for the Harvard University Crimson next school year.