Penn Charter’s varsity quad heads down the Schuylkill in the first race of the 2015 season. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Penn Charter’s varsity quad heads down the Schuylkill in the first race of the 2015 season. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

After the lingering wintry weather caused the cancellation of the first installment of the annual Manny Flick regatta series on March 15, rowers from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Germantown Friends, and Penn Charter were eager to get out on the water last Sunday for Flick number two.

The victories that were picked up here and there were appreciated, but the main goal was just for crews to test their mettle in a competitive setting after so much of their pre-season plans has been curtailed by conditions on and above the Schuylkill.

In the first contest entered by any of the area schools, SCH’s Melanie Bender faced just one rival in the JV single, and the other boat didn’t even appear to be in the same race. Bender won in six minutes, 57.31 seconds, and her rival from Lancaster County’s Lampeter Strasburg High School arrived in 8:50.75.

The Blue Devils were even more of a sure bet to win the girls’ JV double; the only two competitors were both from SCH. The more experienced tandem of Karley Kochenour and Cara Stapleton took first in 5:59.29, with Maddi Bell and Jill Silverman the runners-up in 6:45.40.

In between these two races for the SCH girls, Germantown Friends junior Andrew Berghella competed in the boys’ JV single. He placed third in 5:40.05, while a Roman Catholic High School oarsman won in 5:30.42. In what started as an unsanctioned effort pioneered by singles sculler Andrew Bair (’13), GFS crew has gained popularity and has become an official interscholastic sport this spring, with faculty member Aaron Preetam serving as coach for a group of 21 boys and girls.

A little later on Sunday morning, Penn Charter withdrew an entry in the girls’ JV quad. Springside Chestnut Hill and three other crews remained in the second flight of the event and the Blue Devils won by almost 18 seconds in a time of 5:32.93. The SCH line-up was (stroke to bow) Emma Lutz, Amanda Miller, Jessica Penn, and Larissa Noble. In a closely-contested first flight, Inter-Ac rival Baldwin School won in 5:27.

Later, SCH’s girls’ lightweight quad did go up against another area crew, GFS. Bryn Mawr’s Sacred Heart Country Day School won the race in 5:52.16, while the Tigers (Becca Genyk, Alice Daeschler, Sam Pancoe, Tessa Curry) were second in 6:00.47 and the Blue Devils (Sofia Djerassi, Carly Plotkin, Emily Zuckerman, Grace Tasman) were fourth in 6:04.85. Egg Harbor Township was less than three-tenths of a second ahead of SCH.

The varsity-level racing began with the girls’ single, where Germantown Academy’s lone performer in the inaugural Flick, Jess Zettlemoyer, breezed to victory in 6:03.02, thumping her nearest rival by almost 20 seconds.

Next up were two flights of the girls’ double. In the second race, Addie McKenzie and Sophie Bartholomew of Germantown Friends were third in a five-boat field with a time of 5:58.93. Baldwin was first in 5:49.72, but the fastest time overall belonged to Hatboro Horsham High School, which won the other flight in 5:37.

In the boy’s double, the time of 5:09.80 put up by SCH’s Matt Miller and Callum Brazier was the third-fastest overall out of two flights. The Blue Devils were the runner-up in the second section, where Friends Select won in 4:53.95. There was also a boys’ varsity four for Springside Chestnut Hill, with Nelson Crane serving as cox for Riley Bakes, John Funchion, Mike Wrede, and Will Tasman. The A and B boats from St. Joe’s Prep had the fastest times in the two races, while the Devils, at 5:24.15, were third in their flight and had the fifth time overall.

In the second flight of the girls’ varsity quad, Penn Charter (Rachel Gordon, Jean Gleason, Kelsey White, and Sally Stanley) went head-to-head with SCH (Grace Youngren, Gabby Sciarotta, Eliza Brody, Alexa Schwartz). The Quakers came out ahead, coming in second in 5:29.14, while the Devils took third in 5:44.62 ahead of another Inter-Ac school, Notre Dame. Traditional sculling power Conestoga High School took first place in each of the two flights.

In the final sculling contest of the day, Penn Charter raced in the second flight of the boys’ varsity quad. Here, the Quakers (Ethan Ashley, Jeremy McDavid, Ethan Grugan, Joey Centeno) had a tough go, coming in fourth in their race in 5:07.76.

The Quakers, Blue Devils, and Tigers (and probably more than one GA Patriot) will be back in action this weekend, then the Flick series will be put on hold over Easter Weekend.