Jun 5, 2022
St. Albans Alumnus Wins Gold at IRA National Championship Regatta
J. Stone Walker, a freshman oarsman on the Columbia University lightweight rowing team, is
one of the first African Americans to win a gold medal at an Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championship Regatta. On June 5, 2022, the Columbia Lightweight Rowing Varsity 8, of which Walkerwas a member, won the third championship in the team’s last five IRA appearances, beating undefeated Yale. Standing at 6’4, Walker rowed in 3-seat on port side during the 119th annual race, which was held at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, NJ.
The scholar-athlete graduated from St. Albans School for Boys in 2021, an elite college
preparatory school in Washington DC. Prior to rowing, Walker experienced success in football, basketball, track and lacrosse. St. Albans Head Rowing Coach Ted Haley, who was also Walker’s 7th grade ethics teacher, encouraged him to try out for the rowing team his freshman year. Walker was not particularly enthusiastic about the idea because none of his close friends at the time were rowing. At his father’s insistence, Walker tried out and made the cut. He fell in love with the sport and increasingly focused on rowing during high school, including racing for TBC Racing, a rowing club based in Washington, DC, during the summers. During Walker’s sophomore year, he dreamed of rowing lightweight at Columbia as that team had just won its second title in three years. That same year, Walker won gold in the Junior 4 at the 2019 Stotesbury Cup Regatta, which is the world’s largest high school rowing competition. After a promising junior campaign was canceled due to the pandemic, Walker received a bronze medal at the 2020 Stotesbury Cup Regatta in the Varsity 8. In 2021, Walker went on to win a Scholastic Rowing Association of America (SRAA) National Championship in the Varsity 8 during his senior season.
Walker was the only Columbia freshman in the Varsity 8 in 2022, and he is one of five Columbia athletes to ever win IRAs as a freshman. Remarkably, Walker started the season in the 2nd Varsity 8 and was moved to the Varsity 8 halfway through the season. He credits the tutelage and guidance of Head Coach Nich Lee Parker and former Assistant Coach Andrew J. Hess for his collegiate success.