by Tom Utescher
The 2014 scholastic rowing season was launched last Sunday on the Schuylkill at the first of the five races that make up the annual Manny Flick/Horvat series.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sat this one out, but other area schools had crews out on the river on this clear, but chilly and breezy day.
The Mount St. Joseph Academy girls enjoyed first-place finishes in two of their eight-seat shells, the lightweights and the varsity second eight. Each was in a two-boat race, but neither was content just to win.
The lightweights, coxed by Princeton-bound Megan Mirabella, featured (stroke-to-bow) Abby Shreero, Rachel Sandquist, Michela Karrash, Bridget Fitzpatrick, Erin McGreevey, Alex Uzzo, Katelin Cordero, and Elizabeth McKernan. Churning down the course in four minutes, 55.94 seconds, the MSJ lights bested runner-up Merion Mercy by half-a-minute.
In the second eight, a full 15 seconds separated Mount St. Joe from second-place Archbishop Carroll. Cox Beth Weinrich, a senior headed for Georgetown University, urged her group down the course in 5:05.00, with a line-up consisting of Caroline Carbone, Jenny DiPietro, Ariene Merkle, Brooke McMahon, Danielle Kosman, Christina Vosbikian, Shannon Hughes, and Vicki Matsinger.
Another boat that won by a ton was the girls’ varsity double from Germantown Academy, with senior Kate Horvat in the stroke seat, and junior Jess Zettlemoyer in bow. Their time of 5:35.80 put them 22 seconds ahead of the nearest challenger (Strath Haven High School) in a standard six-boat race.
Horvat, a Chestnut Hill native, has an interesting family history in the sport. Along with Manuel (Manny) Flick, her grandfather, Don Horvat, helped organize the annual series of races which, in essence, constitute the “regular season” schedule for Philadelphia area high school rowers. The annual points trophy presented to the top sculling program on the Schuylkill also bears the name of the family patriarch.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Don Horvat became one of the premier athletes for the major rowing club in the city of Zagreb. The country was then part of the Soviet Bloc in Eastern Europe, but Horvat defected while competing at an international regatta in Bonn, the capital of what was then West Germany.
His granddaughter Kate, who stands 6’1”, was fitted with rowing genes through both of her parents, as well. Her father Paul, who is the Mid-Atlantic region representative on the board of U.S. Rowing, competed at Princeton, and her mother, Erin, rowed for Penn. She has a younger sister, now in seventh grade.
“I was never pressured into rowing, but after growing up around it, I wanted to give it a try when I got to ninth grade,” related Horvat, who also plays water polo for the Patriots and played volleyball in the past.
Last spring at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Championship Regatta, she won the gold medal in GA’s senior double along with Alex Takei, now a freshman at Penn. As the Patriot crew began to experiment with different line-ups for the 2014 campaign, it was decided to pair Horvat with Zettlemoyer in the double.
“Jess was in sculling programs over the summer and she also rowed in the fall, so she has the experience,” Horvat said.
Although the combination proved quite successful on Sunday, it’s not certain if the two will remain together throughout the season, or if Horvat will race on her own in a varsity single.
“We’re going into our spring break for two weeks now, and that’s when we really get into our training and sort out the line-ups,” she explained. “Jess and I had only practiced together three or four times before the first Flick.”
A talented writer and sculptor who also enjoys history and biology, Horvat made her college choice from a group of prestigious academic institutions, eventually settling on Yale University.
The GA crew also recorded a pair of third-place finishes last weekend, thanks to the girls’ JV eight and the boys’ lightweight double. Amee Savani coxed the eight, which turned in a time of 5:25.96 with an eight-cylinder engine featuring Sydney Caplan, Bri Owen, Katie Aemisegger, Genna Feirson, Sam Felgoise, Ingrid Lillis, Hannah Mills, and Roshni Babal.
Alex Strauss stroked the boys’ double and was joined by bow rower Sean Carr, and the duo turned in a time of 5:36.48.
The small Germantown Friends crew sent out a total of three boats for the initial Flick, but each emerged with a top-three finish. Second in the girls’ lightweight double were Becca Genyk (stroke) and Tessa Curry, whose time of 6:16.03 put them a little over five seconds off the mark set by victorious Bonner/Prendergast.
Genyk’s brother, Ethan, stroked the Tigers’ varsity double, and he and partner Greg Goldstein came in third in their race, in 5:04.19. The same spot was earned by the girls’ JV quad, which hit the wire in 5:31.75 thanks to the efforts of Addie McKenzie, Sophie Bartholomew, Jess Newberg, and Olenka Jain.
Penn Charter’s best effort also resulted in a third-place finish, with the clock stopping at 5:59.85 for Jean Gleason (stroke) and Sabrina Pogrebivsky in the varsity double.
Near the end of the first Flick, a second-place showing in the girls’ varsity eight didn’t sit well with the Mount St. Joseph contingent, partly because the event was won by Catholic Academies rival Merion Mercy. The Golden Bears fought off a late push by the Magic to win in 4:39.50, while a time of 4:42.22 was marked down for the Mount (coxswain Victoria Porretti, Maddie Lawn, Leah Ramos, Steph Eble, Maddie Lauinger, Alaina Hunt, Jocelyn Ziemniak, Lauren Matchett, Christina Knox).
Another Mount entry in the same race came away third, and this was encouraging because this was actually the Magic’s JV eight. Here, Sabrina Ghantous called cadence for Dana Mischler, Cait Hagan, Demi Simms, Olivia Tice-Carroll, Mia Fitzpatrick, Maddie Carlton, Julianna Hunt, and Zoe Ramos. They pulled down the course in 4:48.03., a much better time than the 5:15 that won the separate JV eight event.