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High school preview: Stonington boys’ crew

Head coach: Mike O’Neill (sixth season). Assistant coaches: Ed Bockowski, Alicia Socia.

Last year: Stonington (boys and girls combined) placed fourth of 12 teams in the Connecticut public school championships, with the boys’ second varsity boat finishing second and the boys’ Varsity 3 boat placing third. At the New England gegatta, the boys’ second varsity boat placed 10th and the boys’ Varsity 1 boat finished 18th. It was the 14th year of competition for the Bears.

Returning to varsity:

Seniors: Dan Bockowski (captain, coxswain), Graham Hutter (captain), Jefferson Donath, Collin Esquirol, Thomas Gross, Andrew McCauley, Rachel Brown (coxswain). Juniors: Kenny Blanchet, David DeCarlo, Alex Earley, Ian Kilcoyne (coxswain), Nicholas Lindholm. Sophomore: Clayton Andrews.

New to varsity:

Seniors: Kyle Cavanaugh, Jake DeLapp. Juniors: Kyle Hagedorn, Will Spencer. Sophomores: Joe Burchenal, Wells Burchenal, Dwight Davis, Adriano deCastro, Alex Green, Matthew Johnstone, Harren Mistry, Thomas Reagan, Nathan Vail, Kyle Whalen.

Outlook: Ten veterans graduated, but a strong core returns. And a number of newcomers move up to varsity.

Expectations are high for Bockowski and Brown as seasoned coxswains. Esquirol, Donath and McCauley are expected to continue as standouts.

The likely first varsity boat rowers to start the season are seniors Cavanaugh, Donath, Esquirol, Hutter and McCauley; juniors Earley and Hagedorn; and sophomore Andrews.

The Bears again will compete against traditionally strong private-school teams and will face some formidable foes among the public schools.

“It may be a tough year again, because the competition will be tough again,” O’Neill said. “We had 40 guys turn out. Some of the other teams have 140-plus. Simsbury is always our nemesis.”

Coach’s take: “We have a strong team with a lot of breadth. The team is more experienced than in the past. Our guys have a lot of seasons under their belts. Crew is on the upswing in a big way. The competition is getting stronger, but we are too. I’m very impressed with our squad. We have a really strong group of kids. I feel good about where we are.”

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