Hugs, tears and flowers framed victory for the Bishop Eustace girls' senior eight rowing team yesterday afternoon at the 82d annual Stotesbury Cup Regatta on the Schuylkill.

As coxswain Mia Messina accepted the Robert Engman Trophy from Engman himself for winning the penultimate and marquee event, cameras clicked, fans in a packed grandstand cheered, and emotions flowed.

Why the tears from Eustace?

"Because we're only the 12th team to win this," Messina said.

But there was even more to the drama that had Messina, Ravenna Wilkins, Kathleen Armenti, Caitlin Schemenski, Nikki Bourassa, Stephanie Boggs, Gabriella Wilkins, Jennifer Lance and Christine Stopyra embracing.

Eustace coach Rob Seiger explained: "This is only the second year of our varsity program. This is our first win here."

And what a victory it was. The senior eight is the essence of the regatta, billed as the biggest high school rowing event in the land. The Crusaders won the six-boat race over 1,500 meters between the Strawberry Mansion and Columbia bridges in 4 minutes, 57.64 seconds, less than a second faster than E.L Crossley of Fonthill, Ontario.

St. Joseph's Prep, for the second consecutive year, failed in its attempt to capture the boys' senior eight, placing third behind Thomas Jefferson (Va.) and Winter Park (Fla.) respectively. Jefferson won the race last year, too.

Prep did win the boys' junior eight and lightweight eight.

Roman Catholic won the closest race of the day in 0.006 over Haverford by clocking 4:52.004 in the boys' junior quad.

"I kind of threw up all over myself [after the race]," said the Cahillites' third seat, Giovanni DiSalvatore. "I worked so hard that I can't feel my hands and feet."

Roman Catholic coach Roger Ross explained that DiSalvatore becomes anxious at race time, and Ross, too, became anxious at the end of the junior quad. Looking at a photo of the finish, Ross said that in the 12 years that he has been involved in the sport, he had never seen a closer finish.

The Results

Girls' junior double: 1, Episcopal, 5:44.21. 2, Woodbridge, 5:45.55. 3, Montclair, 5:52.40.

Boys' junior double: 1, Christian Brothers, 5:01.59. 2, Conestoga, 5:09.82. 3, Malvern Prep, 5:12.91.

Boys' junior four: 1, E.L. Crossley, 4:56.53. 2, Blair Academy, 4:58.11. 3, St. Ignatius, 4:58.45.

Girls' junior four: 1, Gloucester, 5:37.41. 2, Peddie School, 5:41.68. 3, Germantown Academy, 5:41.84.

Girls' junior eight: 1, Mainland, 1, 5:11.30. 2, Saratoga, 5:15.43. 3, Mount St. Joseph, 5:19.54.

Boys' junior eight: 1, St. Joseph's Prep, 4:25.44. 2, St. Augustine, 4:28.47. 3, Holy Spirit, 4:31.78.

Boys' junior quad: 1, E.L. Crossley, 4:56.53. 2, Blair Academy, 4:58.11. 3, St. Ignatius, 4:58.45.

Girls' junior quad: 1, Gloucester, 5:37.41. 2, Peddie School, 5:41.68. 3, Germantown Academy, 5:41.68.

Girls' lightweight eight: 1, Mount St. Joseph, 4:59.95. 2, Holy Spirit, 5:05.88. 3, Winter Park, 5:09.65

Boys' lightweight eight: 1, St. Joseph's Prep, 4:22.97. 2, La Salle, 4:25.53. 3, St. Augustine, 4:28.16.

Boys' lightweight four: 1, Governor Simcoe, 4:56.40. 2, Lower Merion, 4:56.58. 3, E.L. Crossley, 5:03.66.

Girls' lightweight four: 1, Shenendehowa, 5:30.84. 2, North Carolina, 5:32.13. 3, Montclair, 5:34.81.

Girls' senior double: 1, Churchill, 5:36.48. 2, Gloucester, 5:42.10. 3, North Allegheny, 5:45.03.

Boys' senior double: 1, E.L. Crossley, 4:59.85. 2, Malvern Prep, 5:01.93. 3, Haverford, 5:04.93.

Boys' second eight: 1, Winter Park, 4:59.85. 2, Malvern Prep, 5:01.93. 3, Haverford, 5:04.93.

Girls' second eight: 1, Thomas Jefferson, 5:08.88. 2, St. Andrews, 5:11.88. 3, Mount St. Joseph, 5:12.72.

Girls' senior quad: 1, Conestoga, 5:19.14. 2, North Allegheny, 5:27.93. 3, Woodbridge, 5:31.02.

Boys' senior quad: 1, Malvern Prep, 4:35.52. 2, Roman Catholic, 4:40.29. 3, North Allegheny, 4:45.41.

Boys' senior single: 1, St. Catharine, 5:18.35. 2, Miami Coral Park, 5:20.37. 3, Shaker High, 5:23.77.

Girls' senior single: 1, Grissom, 6:04.80. 2, Advanced Studies, 6:06.71. 3, Huntington, 6:09.07.

Girls' senior four: 1, Peddie School, 5:22.91. 2, Ocean City, 5:31.00. 3, Mathews, 5:31.97.

Boys' senior four: 1, Father Judge, 4:50.30. 2, Gloucester, 4:51.30. 3, Blair Academy, 4:51.60.

Girls' senior eight: 1, Bishop Eustace, 4:57.64. 2, E.L. Crossley, 4:58.49. 3, Oakcrest, 5:03.33.

Boys' senior eight: 1, Thomas Jefferson, 4:18.86. 2, Winter Park, 4:21.16. 3, St. Joseph's Prep, 4:24.43.

Contact staff writer Bill Iezzi

at 856-779-3826 or biezzi@phillynews.com.