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Record-setting Island rower heading to Boston University

Fri, Jan 27th 2017 04:10 pm
Sophia Castillo of Grand Island works out on the Concept 2 Dynamic Indoor Rower at the West Side Rowing Club. Castillo set a world record on the machine, called an ergometer, or erg. (Photo by Larry Austin)
Sophia Castillo of Grand Island works out on the Concept 2 Dynamic Indoor Rower at the West Side Rowing Club. Castillo set a world record on the machine, called an ergometer, or erg. (Photo by Larry Austin)

By Larry Austin

Island Dispatch Editor

Sophia Castillo recently joined a growing list of Grand Island female athletes who have committed to compete in college athletics next year.

But she has one thing on her resume most people only dream about: a world record.

Castillo, a senior at Grand Island High School and rower for the West Side Rowing Club, will row at Boston University next year as part of the Terriers' nationally ranked lightweight crew program.

She joins Maddie Pezzino (Florida State soccer), Lindsay Proctor (West Virginia volleyball), Hayley Latvala (Gannon lacrosse) and Alyssa Maxwell (Roberts Wesleyan lacrosse) from the GIHS Class of 2017, who have all announced their intentions to compete at the next level.

The Terriers are one of the top rowing programs in America, said Mike Cute, the West Side Rowing Club director of rowing. Cute is the coach who told Castillo in December that she was setting a record pace during her regular weekly one-hour workout on the Concept 2 Dynamic Indoor Rower, an ergometer that rowers use in the months out of the water. Cute said the erg is the primary machine for rowers.

"He had texted me the one night and he said, 'I think you've been beating the hour world record for your age and weight category,'" Castillo said.

No big. She went to the WSRC on her off-day and beat the record officially, setting a mark that was later certified as the fastest time for 17-18-year-old female lightweights on the ergometer. She covered 13,855 meters in the hour, and actually covered the most meters in the last 12 minutes.

"Pretty unreal," Castillo said of her record.

"I wouldn't say I was surprised where I didn't think she could do it," said Grand Islander Kassie Moss, a varsity rower with Castillo at the West Side Rowing Club. "I definitely thought she was capable of it. But I was very happy for her, that someone, especially my teammate, could set a world record."

Moss said Castillo is kind and helpful as a teammate who enjoys the friendly competition in the rowing club.

"If you ever need any motivation, she's always there to push you along," Moss said. "She tries to push you while pushing herself at the same time."

Castillo started rowing four years ago at the West Side Rowing Club summer camp, a program geared toward middle-schoolers, though she laughs when she admits she was attracted at first to the club's food.

"They fed me hot dogs at cookouts and stuff, so I kind of decided to get into it," she said. She started on the novice team and quickly moved up to the varsity crew.

She likes rowing because a rower gets out of the sport what she puts into it. If you pull hard, you get rewarded.

"It's really competitive. It feeds my competitive nature," she said.

During a workout last Friday, members of the club were on the erg pushing themselves to the limit. Rather than being daunted by a hard workout, Castillo thrives on the effort.

"I like how basically it's whoever handles pain best gets the best outcome," Castillo said of rowing. "I get really close to my teammates because of that. We all motivate each other a lot, and I like having the feeling of a good workout."

"After our races, I'm totally dead."

Castillo has what it takes to succeed at the next level, Moss said.

"It takes a lot of dedication and motivation, self-motivation," Moss said of rowing success, and pushing for that faster split. "At times, we sit on the erg for an hour, and you just have to push yourself. It's a huge mental game. It's like nothing else I could even compare it to."

That someone from the same club is going to one of the best lightweight crew programs in America is inspiring, Moss explained.

"That's like a dream school for pretty much anybody. That's an amazing school, especially for rowing," Moss said. "I just wish her the best of luck for it, because it's definitely going to be hard."

Castillo said she looked at Boston University at initially for its lightweight rowing program in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association.

"First, I was looking there for rowing because they placed second to Stanford at IRAs, but they're a program that just got started five years ago, so they've come up pretty fast," Castillo said. "And then I just fell in love with the campus and the academics and just the full picture. And it was the most supportive team and the most supportive coaching staff I looked at."

She said she would probably row in an 8 or 4-woman crew.

She plans to study political science on a pre-law track, with perhaps a minor in psychology. She has been accepted into the BU honors college.

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