by Tom Utescher
Out of a total of 21 boats entered by Germantown Friends, Mount St. Joseph Academy, Penn Charter, and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America National Regatta last weekend, 11 made it through the initial qualifying stage on Friday.
The next day at New Jersey’s Lake Mercer (located between Trenton and Princeton), four area crews advanced to the SRAA finals, and all of them were able to take home medals at the end of the afternoon. Unlike the previous weekend, the weather held for the rowers, with the racing and the awards ceremonies finishing up ahead of a light rain that arrived during the final breakdown and stowage of the team tents and equipment.
The varsity double manned by SCH’s Jaime MacEachern and Thomas Andrews earned a silver medal, and two Mount St. Joe crews also finished second.
Runners-up in the lightweight eight were the Magic’s Madi Kist (cox), Michela Karrash (stroke), Liz McKernan, Abby Shreero, Alex Uzzo, Erin McGreevey, Bridget Fitzpatrick, Katelin Cordero, and Rachel Sandquist. The varsity eight also secured a silver medal, thanks to the efforts of Megan Mirabella (cox), Steph Eble (stroke), Christina Knox, Maddie Lawn, Maddie Lauinger, Alaina Hunt, Maddie Carlton, Lauren Matchett, and Leah Ramos.
The fourth finalist and a bronze medalist was the Mount’s JV eight, which contained Sabrina Ghantous (cox), Dana Mischler (stroke), Julianna Hunt, Demi Simms, Olivia Tice-Carroll, Mia Fitzpatrick, Cait Hagan, Brooke McMahon, and Zoe Ramos.
Three other MSJ vessels made it as far as the semifinals. The lightweight four (Mimi O’Malley – cox, Grace Little -stroke, Emma Tenzinger, Sophia Cocozza, Vicki Matsinger) placed second in one of four qualifying heats, and the top three in each race moved into the semifinals. Coming in fourth in their semifinal contest, the Magic missed the cut for finals by one place and less than two seconds. Their time was actually better than that of the third-place crew in the other semifinal section.
The Mount’s freshman eight (Shannon LoStracco – cox, Allie DiPietro – stroke, Emma French, Sam Altomare, Alex Natale, Paige Comtois, Grace Comerford, Meredith Mayes, Molly Whalen) was third in its opening heat and thus reached the semifinal stage, where the ninth-graders’ weekend concluded with a fifth-place outcome.
Second in their heat on Friday, the Magic’s second eight (Beth Weinrich – cox, Emily McHugh – stroke, Jenny DiPietro, Jocelyn Ziemniak, Natalie Simms, Danielle Kosman, Christina Vosbikian, Caroline Carbone, Shannon Hughes) did not fare as well in their Saturday morning semifinal, landing in sixth place.
The fledgling Germantown Friends crew started out with two boats and enjoyed a 50 percent success rate in the qualifying, as senior Ethan Genyk placed second in one of three heats and moved on. He would later miss a trip to the finals by one spot, coming in fourth in his semifinal.
One of the five Penn Charter boats that signed up for Nationals made it through the opening round. Juniors Pete Ciarrocchi and Ethan Ashley came in fourth in one of three heats, and in this category four from each section were able to advance to the semifinal round. There, the PC pair bowed out with a sixth-place finish.
The varsity single competition followed the same format, with the top four in each heat going on to the semifinal round. Moving past the heats along with Genyk of GFS was a Springside Chestnut Hill junior, Matt Miller. He secured that crucial fourth spot in his first appearance of the weekend, but his regatta run then ended with a fifth-place showing in the first of the semifinal races.
Friday was a good day for the Blue Devils’ senior class, as MacEachern and Andrews advanced along with their female counterparts in the varsity double, Liz McClafferty and Mariel Soto Reyes. The ladies captured the fourth spot in the first of three heats to continue past the qualifying stage. They then had the misfortune to finish fifth in a fast semifinal contest; their time would’ve had them third in the other race, which would’ve gotten them a bid to the finals.
MacEachern and Andrews, both seniors bound for Penn State, had distinguished themselves the previous weekend with a bronze medal at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta and a silver medal in the Philadephia City Championships. They started out at SRAA’s by easily reaching the semifinals with a second-place effort in their heat (four advanced), then they were the runners-up once more in the faster of the two semifinal bouts.
The winning crew in that semifinal, a twosome from SCH’s Inter-Ac League rival Malvern Prep, went on to win the gold medal on Saturday afternoon with a time of five minutes, 17.931 seconds, with the Blue Devils second in 5:22.189. In a tight battle for the bronze medal, Saratoga Springs High School (5:26.784) beat out Upper Dublin (5:26.961), while Michigan’s Crestwood High and St. Joseph’s Prep filled the last two spots.
About 15 minutes before the doubles came down the course, Chestnut Hill resident Kate Horvat raced in the finals of the varsity single. The Germantown Academy senior, who is headed for Yale University, had won gold medals at both at Stotesbury and at the City Championships the previous weekend.
She won her semifinal section at the SRAA’s, but overall the fastest time in that round belonged to Natalie Stuart, an Episcopal Academy senior who had been closely pursuing Horvat in races on the Schuylkill all spring. The EA rower, who will attend Skidmore College, had a breakout performance to win Saturday’s SRAA final with a time of 6:30.342. Horvat, admittedly feeling a little flat, finished fourth in 6:34.695, just a hair behind the bronze medalist from Northville, Mich. (6:34.623). The silver medal went to a competitor from Virginia’s Western Albemarle High School (6:32.398).
Before any of the varsity races got underway, Mount fans were cheering for the first of their three finalists, the JV eight. This crew had finished out of the medals at Stotesbury, coming in fourth in the final, but they showed renewed determination as SRAA’s got underway. They won both their heat and their semifinal race, and in the semi’s their time was just 0.43 seconds slower than the best overall figure, which belonged to Niskayuna High School of Schenectady, N.Y.
Niskayuna would go on to win the final in 5:17.727, and this time suburban Chicago power New Trier (5:18.392) separated the New York boat from the third-place Magic (5:19.420). Farther back in fourth (5:24.352) came Michigan’s Rockford High School, followed by New Jersey’s Montclair (which had beaten the Mount for the bronze medal at Stotesbury), and Maryland’s Walter Johnson High.
The Mount St. Joe lightweights had also finished fourth at “Stotes” the previous weekend, but two crews that finished ahead of the Magic in Philly found themselves in the Mounties’ wake in the SRAA finals. The MSJ lights won both their opening heat and their semifinal race, although New Jersey’s Holy Spirit and Florida’s Winter Park High School put up faster times in the other semifinal contest.
In the finals, the Magic appeared to be gaining slightly on the leaders near the finish, but Holy Spirit was the clear winner in 5:09.916, adding some SRAA bling to their Stotesbury gold medals. Second in 5:12.453, the Mount took the silver ahead of Catholic Academies rival Merion Mercy (5:15.784) and Winter Park (5:17.569), the silver and bronze medalists from Stotesbury. Ocean City (N.J.) and Canisius (Buffalo, N.Y.) came in fifth and sixth, respectively.
In mid May, Saratoga won a Stotesbury gold medal with its very strong freshman eight, but the Blue Streaks did not have an entry in the varsity eight category. However, the Magic had seen the New York school’s varsity boat at the Saratoga Invitational in late April, and had finished three seconds behind them when the two appeared in the same race.
Convincingly capturing the gold medal at Stotes, the Mount St. Joe V8 maintained its momentum as SRAA’s got underway, winning one of the six opening heats. Virginia’s James Madison High School, which has turned out excellent eights in recent years, had the fastest overall qualifying time.
The Warhawks came in a second behind the Mount in the second of three semifinal races on Saturday morning. Both advanced to the finals, as did Saratoga, which rowed in the first semifinal round and logged the fastest overall time in that round of the regatta.
Saratoga also proved fastest when the top six went head-to-head for the medals in the grand final that afternoon. The Streaks stroked to a gold medal in 5:06.928, while the silver went to the Magic (5:09.364) and the bronze to James Madison (5:12.016).
Stotesbury runner-up National Cathedral Prep was fourth in 5:12.876, ahead of McLean (Va.) High School (5:14.451) and Ohio’s Upper Arlington (5:15.556).
The Mounties had been hoping for a reprise of their gold-medal performance the previous weekend, but snagging an SRAA silver medal was still no mean achievement for a boat with an 11th-grade newcomer and three sophomores in the line-up.