At 92, he’s not about to slow his row


Dean Smith has won another national and world championship.

No, I’m obviously not referring to the late legendary former North Carolina basketball coach who captured two NCAA titles with the Tar Heels, one gold medal as a coach with the U.S. Olympic team and one national crown as a player at Kansas.

The Dean Smith I am citing lives in Lone Tree with his wife, Priscilla, who on Feb. 24 won the national and world indoor rowing championships for his age group.

Smith will be 93 years old in June.

Priscilla says when the couple would to go out for dinner in the southeast — when the basketball coach was still alive — they would always get the best table. Then she would have to admit that her husband was not that Dean Smith.

But the Dean Smith from Lone Tree doesn’t take a back seat with his accomplishments.

He has a sizeable wall display with ribbons, gold medals, hammer awards and a large picture that exposes him as a world-class track, cycling and rowing athlete. And the ribbons and medals were just the ones he has won since he turned 80.

Smith, who went to high school in Canton, Illinois, and to college at Bradley University, also in Illinois, was inducted into the Bradley Hall of Fame where he set a school record of 4:23.3 for the mile run.

“I was in high school and not good enough to play basketball,” said Smith. “Running I could do, so I started running. Coach said, ‘I want you on the team.’ I did cycling through the ages. My knees gave out when I was about 73. The doctor told me if I kept running I was going to have to have them replaced. I liked the original ones.

“So I was looking for something else and this buddy of mine found this rowing machine. I tried it and it didn’t bother my knees, so I said, ‘This is it.’ I could really compete and get serious about it.”

Two months after he started indoor rowing, he won a championship in Boston.

Between 1974-1990, he won eight U.S. age group 880-meter championships and four Master’s World championships. He set a world record with a time of 2:03.5 in the 800 meters at the age of 53 in Hanover, Germany.

He has one U.S. Masters cycling gold medal, nine U.S. and international titles in rowing on the water and 20 U.S. and world championships between 2003 and 2019 in indoor rowing.

For anybody puzzled by indoor rowing, it is done on rowing machines like those that can be found in most health clubs. Rowing machines simulate actions of watercraft rowing. And indoor rowing has become a sport of its own.

In his recent wins of national and world titles in Long Beach, California, on Feb. 24, he was timed in 9:43.7 for 2,000 meters.

“I love the competition,” said Smith. “If there is somebody out there I like to get ahead of them. Indoor rowing can be very competitive and you are on a machine that can be very accurate in measurement. So the measurements you are judged by are very accurate. There are techniques you need to learn for rowing. ... If you are good on the water, you are probably good on a rowing machine.”

Spring is here

The first day of spring isn’t until March 20 but the spring sports season is under way and CHSAANow.com released its preseason polls for baseball and girls soccer before any games were played.

Several area teams were among those ranked and should be watched this spring.

Mountain Vista, which defeated Heritage to win the 5A baseball title last season, is top-ranked in the 5A baseball poll. Heritage is second, Cherry Creek third, Mountain Range sixth, Rock Canyon eighth, and last year’s 4A state champ Valor Christian is ninth.

In the 3A baseball ratings, Faith Christian was second and Lutheran third.

Defending state champion Grandview headed the 5A girls soccer poll, which had last year’s semifinalists Mountain Vista and Rock Canyon ranked third and fourth, respectively. Cherry Creek was eighth and Arapahoe 10th.

Standley Lake was third in the 4A poll with Ponderosa fifth, D’Evelyn eighth and Green Mountain 10th.

Defending state champion Jefferson Academy was top-ranked in 3A with Lutheran holding down the fifth spot.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton


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