Rower from Worcester Academy “Achieves the Honorable” in London
Monday, August 13, 2012
Although he did not medal in either Olympics, Piermarini’s performance in the second race of the London Games lived up to Worcester Academy’s motto of “Achieve the Honorable.” After failing to qualify by a small margin in their first race, the U.S. rowers went on to the repechage round for a second chance to advance to the semi-finals. During the race Piermarini ‘caught a crab’—rowing terms for digging an oar into the water so that it acts as a brake on the boat.
Instead of giving up, the team put their rowing efforts into high gear and sprinted to catch up with the rest of the field. Rowing more than 40 strokes a minute, the U.S. boat momentarily caught up with the Swiss boat, although ultimately finished last by a margin of only .72 seconds. “We had the race of our lives,” Piermarini told U.S. Rowing’s Ed Moran.
Piermarini’s former rowing coach at UMass Amherst Tony Cronin was watching the race at home. “That’s why they’re Olympians… because they are determined to succeed at any cost. When something like that happens, a lot of people get really down about it and kind of fall apart. That crew rallied, it was amazing to see them close the gap like that,” Cronin said of the performance.
In 2011, Worcester Academy showed its pride in Piermarini by naming a shell after him, which now hangs in a building on campus. Piermarini made a trip back to the school last year to visit and inspect the shell.
Interestingly, Worcester Academy did not offer rowing as a sport when Piermarini attended. Rather, Piermarini skied, played water polo and soccer, ran track, and was a member of the drama and comedy clubs. Worcester Academy’s Director of External Communications Neil Isakson says that the rowing program was installed about five years ago, and Piermarini has been supportive of the school’s efforts.
After graduating from Worcester Academy, Piermarini attended UMass Amherst. It was there where he began his rowing career. Head Coach Tony Cronin began coaching the team when Wes was a junior.
Piermarini’s family still lives in West Brookfield and was able to join him in London to watch him compete. Cronin credits Piermarini’s success on the water to his upbringing. “His parents made him the way he is—made him the type of person that strived to be the best at everything that he does,” Cronin said.
In addition to Piermarini, Worcester Academy boasts a long line-up of alumni who have competed in the Olympics. Dating back as far as Bascom Johnson from the Class of 1896, who competed in the pole vault in the 1900 Paris Games, there have been 14 total Worcester Academy Olympians. Among these athletes is Bill Toomey, a gold medal winner in the Decathlon at the 1968 Mexico City Games.
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