EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 1, 2012

Ultimate goal: Naval Academy

Running discipline helps fuel success in crew, military hopes

On Cross Country
Dave Dyer

---- — A great big thank you to the sport of cross country.

Regardless of how he completes what has been a fine career as the Brooks No. 1 runner, that will be a lasting sentiment for senior standout Sawyer Rogers. He’s indebted for what the sport has done for him.

Rogers, who is a day student from Andover, is one of the top crew rowers in New England. He’s been in the No. 1 boat for Brooks the last two years and was in the No. 3 boat as a freshman, during which the Green and White finished second in New England. They’ve been fourth and fifth the last two years.

“Crew is definitely my main thing,” said Rogers, who plans on rowing in college, preferably at the Naval Academy. “It’s a sport with great relationships, there is great competition and it really tests you.”

But Rogers’ first sport as a freshman was cross country even before he was positive he’d try crew, which had been the sport of choice of older brother Weston, who is now a junior at the University of San Diego.

“I was huge into hockey and lacrosse before I got to Brooks, but I wanted to try something different,” said Rogers. “I knew I wanted to try cross country and that’s what I did first before I got into crew.

“Getting into crew is probably the most important thing I’ve done, since I’m being recruited in it now, but cross country was the building block for my mental

strength and got me ready for crew. Cross country and crew are both about mental strength and they fit my personality.”

Moreover, both cross country and crew will prepare Rogers for meeting his main and long-lasting objective, which is to attend the Naval Academy, where he paid an official visit the weekend before last.

“Ever since I was young, I wanted to serve my country,” said Rogers, an outstanding student with a solid GPA of 91 on a scale of 100. “My first interest in the military started in the third grade. We had to take a book out of the (school) library and I took one on American special forces. That got me going and the more I heard about the Navy, the more I wanted to go to the Naval Academy.”

Rogers is so intent on going to the Naval Academy, he hasn’t applied anywhere else.

“That’s got my parents and my guidance counselor nervous, but I think my chances are good and, if I don’t get in, I’ll do a PG year and apply again,” he said. “The Naval Academy has everything I want — to serve my country, a great education and to keep doing crew.”

And, if it all comes about, it started with cross country.

“I love to run and it helped me get mentally strong,” said Rogers. “I wish I could keep doing both but crew is a year-round thing in college.”

For a secondary sport, Rogers has had a fine career in cross country. As Brooks’ No. 1 runner, he finished ninth in New England in Prep Class A as a sophomore and last year he was ninth in the Independent School League and fifth in New England. And this is without another a teammate to push him in practice.

“It’s been tough for Sawyer,” said Brooks coach Scott Kelly. “He’s such a hard worker, he’s like a machine. He can do six, seven, eight repeats of 1,000 (yards) with no problem and last year anyone else would struggle to do five.

“This year, I’m hopeful. (Teammate) Joe St. Cyr has really worked hard and improved and he can run the same workouts and is right up there with him. With someone to train with and push him, I’m hopeful Sawyer can have a great season.”

For his part, Rogers is striving to finish higher both in the ISL and prep New England meets, a worthy accomplishment which would serve as a springboard to both his final season of crew and, hopefully, the start of his career at the Naval Academy.

Salem in top 10

For the first time in a number of years, the Salem boys cross country team cracked the top 10 in the New Hampshire cross country team rankings released last week.

Fresh off a strong performance at the Manchester Invitational, the Blue Devils were ranked eighth, one spot behind Londonderry, which made its first appearance in the top 10 this year. Pinkerton is fourth, trailing Souhegan, Winnacunnet and surprising Oyster River.

On the girls side, Londonderry moved up to No. 2 behind Coe-Brown while Pinkerton moved up to No. 10. Timberlane, which has gotten off to a slow start, moved out of the top 10.