Mount St. Joseph’s JV eight puts the finishing touches on a victory last Sunday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Mount St. Joseph’s JV eight puts the finishing touches on a victory last Sunday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Fans of Mount St. Joseph rowing are accustomed to seeing strong performances from their top eight-oared vessels, but not quite so much from the MSJ fours. However, the smaller Mount boats made a strong showing in the first Manny Flick series race of 2015 last Sunday.

The varsity and junior varsity eights won their races, but so did the JV four “A’ boat and the Magic’s lightweight four, while the JV four “B” finished second.

The junior fours led off for Mount St. Joe last weekend, and in the first race in their category the “A” boat rolled to an eight-second victory over Egg Harbor (N.J.) Township in five minutes, 42.33 seconds. The crew of (stroke to bow) Allie DiPietro, Celine Mina, Paige Comtois, and Emma Veon was urged on by coxswain Shannon LoStracco.

A Mount “B” boat performed in the second flight of the JV Four, with Brayslin Gallagher, Anna Gallagher, Brianna McBride, and Victoria Summerville under the direction of cox Kathleen Brooks. Crossing the line in 6:07.71, they placed second to Moorestown (N.J.) High School.

In the lone flight in the lightweight four class, cox Annarose Clark guided Julia Bushold, Emma French, Brooke Gimaro, and Maddie Finnegan to victory in 5:46.09. The Magic had countered a late challenge by second-place Vineland (N.J.) High School, and won by a four-second margin.

In the Mount varsity eight there was a largely familiar cast of characters, with Sabrina Ghantous coxing for established oarswomen such as Steph Eble (stroke), Christina Knox (seven seat), Olivia Tice-Carroll (six), Maddie Lauinger (five), Maddie Carlton (three) and Dana Mischler (two).

The regular four-seater, Alaina Hunt, was under the weather, so MSJ varsity coach Mike McKenna replaced her with the closest thing he could think of, Hunt’s younger sister, Julianna. Relatively recently, Alex Uzzo moved into the bow seat of the V-8 from the Magic’s lightweight eight; this year she’ll be able to eat a hearty Easter dinner instead of focusing on meeting the weight requirements for the lightweight category.

Going into the last few hundred meters of the Mount’s race (the second of three flights), New Jersey’s Holy Spirit High School was out in front in lane three, while the Magic trailed by a few seats over in lane one near the riverbank. By the lower end of Peter’s Island the Mount had almost drawn even, and the Magic eked out a victory over Spirit at the end, with the times for the two recorded at 4:48.02 and 4:48.09.

Third-place Bonner-Prendergast was another 10 seconds back, and the times put up by both the Mount and Holy Spirit bested the winning figures from the other two flights, as well.

The exchanging of Hunt sisters in the V-8 had a minor ripple effect on other MSJ boats. In the JV eight, Julianna Hunt’s five-seat was filled by the original bow rower, Grace Comerford, while Michelle Lipovsky moved into the bow from the same spot in the second eight. Emily Woodrow was coxswain for a JV vessel that also contained Brooke McMahon (stroke), Julia Comerford (seven), Demi Simms (six), Alex Natale (four), Mia Fitzpatrick (three) and Cait Hagan (two).

In two flights for the jay vee’s, the Magic’s winning time in the second section (5:06.90) was the faster than the best time from the other race by more than a dozen seconds. Within the Mount’s own group, Radnor High School was runner-up in 5:15.11.

In the second eight, most members of the Magic crew did not hear the preliminary starting commands, and the result was a poor showing over the first 500 meters. The Mounties made up ground later, but Holy Spirit won comfortably in 4:58.09 while the Magic were second in 5:06.76 and Absegami’s oarswomen were best of the rest in 5:21.

Liz DeGroat had filled the vacancy left in bow of the Mount second eight by the removal of Lipovsky. Working backward from the bow seat, the line-up featured Emma Tenzinger, Nina Lawlor, Danielle Kosman, Jenny DiPietro, Brynn McGillin, Alana Cianciulli, and Sam Altomare, with Olivia Kylander as coxswain.

The order in the MSJ lightweight eight remained as it was first drawn up, with cox Lindsey Maiale guiding rowers (stroke to bow) Erin McGreevey, Vicki Matsinger, Shannon Hughes, Zoe Ramos, Grace Little, Molly Whalen, Kait Cordero, and Rachel Sandquist. Here, Spirit came in first with a time of 5:05.06 to the Magic’s 5:10.58, with Merion Mercy third in 5:24.