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Rowing: Pair’s gold medals adding up

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11/18/2016 6:00 PM |

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Matthew Hubbard, 15, of Riverhead and Bennett McCombe, 16, of Westhampton Beach both have a promising future in rowing. And their present isn’t too bad, either.

Each of them has a single scull and a two-man boat, which they share when sailing doubles for the East End Rowing Institute. At the Riverhead Snowflake Regatta on Sunday, Hubbard won three gold medals and McCombe picked up two. “They were really fast, blowing everybody away, but on the other hand, they had no serious competition,” said their coach, Co Rentmeester.

Rentmeester, who sailed to a fifth-place finish for the Netherlands in double sculls in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, has coached the pair for 14 months.

“They started from zero,” he said. “They never rowed before.”

He added, “For the short period that they had rowed, they are outstanding, and I would venture to say that coaches at major colleges would be very interested in recruiting them.”

The two have already been approached by Princeton and Yale, he said.

Hubbard and McCombe won gold medals for their victory in varsity doubles in the Head of Schuylkill Regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia Oct. 29. “They beat all the top [varsity] crews on the East Coast,” said Rentmeester. Hubbard won a second gold medal that day in single scull as well.

Perhaps most impressive of all, however, was McCombe’s performance in the famed Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Oct. 23. He placed eighth out of 54 rowers, “which is remarkable,” said Rentmeester.

Rentmeester said the two have the discipline and work ethic required to succeed in the sport, training six days a week.

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