BY KEN SCHOTT
Gideon Schmidt is used to winning.
The 2016 Niskayuna High School graduate won gold medals with the Silver Warriors’ boys’ senior quad at the New York State Championships in 2015 and 2016. In 2014, Schmidt earned gold medals in the boys’ junior eight and junior quad.
Now, Schmidt is a national champion.
The freshman was part of the Cornell men’s lightweight eight that won the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta national championship June 4 on Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif.
“It was pretty exciting,” Schmidt said. “Winning at the collegiate and national level is very different [than high school]. Knowing how to get out of a race, taking control of a race and make sure you get across the line first are skills I developed in high school.”
The Big Red defeated fellow Ivy League rivals Penn and Princeton to capture their third national championship since 2014. They won in a time of 5:40.172. The victory capped an undefeated season for the Big Red.
Schmidt said he felt nervous going into the championship race. And that was a good thing.
“There’s always nerves,” Schmidt said. “One of my high school coaches used to say if you’re not nervous, that means one of two things. Either you know how it’s going to go, or you don’t care. You never know how lightweight rowing is going to go.”
Schmidt sits in the No. 5 seat on the boat.
“As the five seat, my role in the boat is largely power,” Schmidt said. “In the middle of the boat, I have the mechanically advantaged position to move the boat forward, where the people who sit in the stern of the boat, they’re job is to set the rhythm and make sure the boat is moving smoothly. The rowers in the bow, they’re job is obviously to pull. The way they row has a much bigger effect on the way the boat runs.”
Cornell lightweight rowing coach Chris Kerber has been very impressed with Schmidt and how quickly he fit in with the team.
“Since the moment he stepped on campus, Gideon has made an impact on the team,” Kerber said. “Not only physiologically, but also his raw talent. His ability to move a boat is quite good, as well. But his own maturity and leadership, when you enter a team like ours, when you have those credentials and those deep convictions, you instantly start building credibility with the team.
“The physiological stuff is important without a doubt. But the self-leadership, the motivation, all of those intangibles, he started developing that the first day he arrived and he never looked back. He’s just has a winning mindset, and he’s willing to fail and figure things out. It’s really been awesome to work with him.”