by Tom Utescher
Rowing fans supporting Chestnut Hill Academy, Springside School, and Penn Charter were all able to cheer on finalists from their schools at last weekend’s Stotesbury Cup Regatta, not a mean feat considering that “Stotes” is the largest high school regatta in the world and attracts some 5000 athletes to the Kelly Drive racecourse on the Schuylkill.
Springside sent its senior double and senior quad through to the final round on Saturday afternoon, and the quad’s inspiring performance resulted in a gold medal for the Lions (see separate story). CHA also had two entries still alive in the last round, its lightweight and senior doubles. The two-year old Penn Charter program could also boast of a Stotesbury finalist this year; the girls’ junior double made it through the qualifying and semifinals to join the Saturday afternoon dance.
Germantown Friends’ Andrew Bair, a sophomore racing against many older competitors in the senior single category, qualified 17th in an initial field of 35 boats, then finished sixth in a semifinal where only the top two rowers could continue on.
In the qualifying stage on Friday, the boats in each category were started one-by-one down the course and then ranked according to time. In the less populous categories, the quickest 12 went on to one of two semifinal races, then the top three finishers in each of those contests made the finals. In the events with the largest number of competitors, the fastest 18 boats were seeded into three semifinals, and in those races only the top two made the cut for the medal round.
You could have closed your eyes and not gone near a window and forecast the weather for Friday. It was the usual opening day at Stotesbury; overcast, a bit cool, with occasional rain. Conditions improved markedly on Saturday.
Several boats from each school made their exit during the qualifying round. CHA’s Drew Ansel ended his run in the senior single, and the Blue Devils’ junior quad (Seth Bakes (stroke), Mark Anspach, Alec Horter, Jordan Wang) was 14th in qualifying, two places short of a trip to the semifinals.
Penn Charter’s girls’ junior quad (Sami Kapnek (stroke), Tara Malone, Tess Reinhold, Katie O’Malley) was also two spots away from continuing on, qualifying 14th, and the boys’ junior quad for the Quakers (Grant Shaffer (stroke), Clay Bryan, Jack Delaney, Sam Jolinger) didn’t survive the cut, either.
Springside qualified all of its entries, most of them in categories where they had to be among the top 12 crews. The senior quad (Verity Walsh (stroke), Taylor Apostolico, Jen Sager, Anna Valciukas) qualified fourth, the senior double (Victoria Iannarone, Becca Chasar) fifth,, the junior quad (Anna Rose Bedrosian (stroke), Amanda Price, Victoria Byron, Marguerite Zabriskie) ninth, and the lightweight double (Paige Gembala, Tilden Bissell) 10th.
The junior double (Emily Eisler, Katie Blake) was 11th, and the Lions’ lone sweep rowing boat, a lightweight four (Mia Gold (cox), Mozelle Rosenthal (stroke), Chelsea Richardson, Rose Donahue, Allie Schreffler) started out among 27 entries and were 14th out of the 18 crews that made the semifinals.
The Springside boats encountered stiffer resistance in the semifinals, where the light four, the junior quad, and the lightweight double each placed fifth and saw their weekend of racing come to an end. The Lions came in sixth in their junior double semifinal, but another duo, the senior double, came in third in a semifinal race won by eventual gold medalist Shaker High School, from upstate New York.
The Lions’ senior quad was second in its semifinal and went on to win gold. In the senior double, the finalists were strung out more than half-a-minute apart at the end, with Iannarone and Chasar coming in fifth.
Meanwhile, CHA’s freshman quad (Peter Anthony (stroke), Jamie MacEachern, Will Elliott, James Meadows), senior double (Laddy St. George, Zach Baron), and lightweight double (Drew Adubato, Carl Delacato) each ranked sixth in their qualifying races. They moved on to the semifinals, as did the senior quad (John Olson (stroke), Mike Calistri, Terence Jones, Walt Palmer), which qualified ninth.
Two members of the freshman quad, Anthony and Meadows, had a very successful spring in a freshman double, but there was no category for them to compete in at Stotesbury. Their foursome finished up by placing fourth in the semifinals, one spot shy of an appearance in the final race, and the Blue Devil senior quad suffered precisely the same fate.
The other two Chestnut Hill qualifiers moved on into the finals with third-place showings in the semis. In the senior double, no one could touch the Canadian combo from Denis Morris, which seized the gold medal with almost eight seconds to spare. The Devils’ St. George and Baron were in the slow-moving lane six, and that was the number of their finish, as well. In the lightweight double, CHA’s “Team Badocato” placed fifth in the final race.
Three Penn Charter tandems survived the qualifiers at Stotes; the girls’ junior double (Heidi Zisselman, Maria Georgiou) and senior double (Alix Azizi, Jenna Maurer), and the boys’ junior double (Spencer Grant, Kevin Kelly). Also going through to the semifinals was the girls’ freshman quad (Hannah Kramer (stroke), Liza Gendler, Isa Djerassi, Celina McCall).
Grant and Kelly qualified eighth in a large field and went on to a semifinal race where only the top two crews would advance. Here they were third, just 0.39 seconds behind Roman Catholic, which moved on.
Two of the girls’ boats ended their weekend in the same round, with the senior double landing in fifth place, and the freshman quad in sixth.
Charter’s Georgiou and Zisselman, both sophomores, qualified fourth in the junior double and went through to the finals with a third-place outing in the semifinal round. On Saturday afternoon they came within one place of capturing the first Stotesbury medal for PC’s modern-day rowing program, finishing fourth with a time of 5:38.85.