by Tom Utescher

In Mount St. Joseph’s lightweight eight, Chestnut Hill’s Maureen Flynn (left) pulls towards the finish along with her partner in the bow pair, Lexi Meister. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Convincing victories by the varsity and junior varsity eights highlighted last Sunday’s racing for the Mount St. Joseph Academy crew last Sunday in the third edition of the annual Manny Flick series.

Each boat raced in the first of three flights in its category, winning comfortably while posting the best overall time in its event.

The third Manny Flick usually is the occasion for the competitive debut of the Mount’s first-year rowers, and last Sunday the Magic entered two boats full of freshmen.

“That first time out, I mainly just want them to have a positive experience,” said MSJ novices coach Stuart Chase. “I don’t want them to concentrate on winning and losing, but just doing what they’ve been taught to do and staying positive, because this is just the starting point. You need to get that first race behind you in order to really start focusing on your goals and objectives.”

First up was the novice eight, which settled into a steady rhythm and eventually passed some fast-stroking rivals who had led early in the race. With Annarose Clark at coxswain, the octet of (stroke to bow) Sarah Healy, Bernadette McGirr, Madison Ehmann, Danielle Kosman, Megan Kelley, Sophia Cocozza, Emma Tenzinger, and Kelly Dougherty, Mount St. Joe won its flight in six minutes, 14.12 seconds, eight seconds ahead of the runner-up.

In the freshman eight, which raced 25 minutes later, the line-up consisted of Steph Eble, Jenny DiPietro, Brynn McGillin, Alaina Hunt, Imeirah Page, Tina Hendel, Josie Marrocco, Kate Stromberg, and coxswain Sabrina Ghantous. This group placed third in 5:57.45, a little under five seconds off of the winning time.

Commenting on the performance of both rookie crews, Chase said “I’m very pleased. The coxswains are so key in these first couple races for the freshmen, and I thought they did a great job of managing the race day, and taking charge of their crews both on and off the water. I was very proud of the leadership I saw from them. From the rowing standpoint, I saw two crews that came out and rowed long [in terms of the length of the stroke] and controlled. That was the goal, and we achieved that.”

In the Mount’s JV eight, a few of the rowers were just one year removed from their debut on the Schuylkill. Lauren Matchett and Jocelyn Ziemniak are still only sophomores, while the other occupants of the boat are juniors Rachel Heller (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy grad), Jacqueline Janes, Gwynedd Kieffer, Emily Ruddy, Emma Thompson, Maddie Wescott, and coxswain Mary Ragazzino.

Their time of 5:31.78 netted them a 10-second win in their own section, while the second-best time overall was the figure of 5:39.38 put up by Radnor High School in the third flight, where the Red Raiders topped Merion Mercy by two seconds.

The date may have been April 1, but the Mount’s rivals in the fast heat of the varsity eight event quickly discovered that the Magic weren’t fooling around. The MSJ ensemble (cox Erin McElroy and stick swingers Dana Lerro, Julie McGlynn, Katie O’Connell, Darian DiCianno, Dana Zielinski, Emily Carbone, Maddie Lawn, and Kiera McCloy) quickly seized the lead and hung into it like pit bull terriers.

By the time the Mounties started to draw alongside Peter’s Island the race was over, and they won by 11 seconds in 5:03.80. Spectators were still treated to an exciting finish as the next three crews battled for the runner-up spot. Absegami fell off the pace near the end to finished fourth, but ahead of them just three one-hundredths of a second separated second place Radnor and number three Merion Mercy.

The Magic V-8 had won its flight the Sunday before, but wasn’t really in top form after returning from a St. Patrick’s weekend trip to California.

“They looked strong today,” varsity coach Mike McKenna said after the most recent Flick, “This should help to build their confidence.”

Earlier, the Mount lightweight eight pulled well over the last few hundred meters, but had given up too much water earlier in the race to overcome victorious Holy Spirit High School. Spirit won in 5:24.10, while the Magic fought off another New Jersey crew, Montclair High, for second place, 5:32.18 to 5:34.03.

Here, Annie Tenzinger was the cox for Michela Karrash, Kait Loftus, Kate Mirabella, Leah McGlynn, Leah Ramos, Meg O’Brien, Lexi Meister, and Maureen Flynn.

In fours racing, one of the Mount’s JV boats came in second in its flight. Coxswain Lauren Woodrow coaxed a time of 6:25.63 from rowers Frannie McDermott, Natalie Simms, Christina Vosbikian, and Marissa Mulligan. A little later, an MSJ lightweight four containing Emily McHugh, Bridget Fitzpatrick, Maura O’Donnell, Elizabeth McKernan, and cox Beth Weinrich finished third in the fast flight of the event, with a time of 6:16.93.