The latest generation of Mount St. Joe rowers de-rigs an eight after their first race. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The latest generation of Mount St. Joe rowers de-rigs an eight after their first race. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Every year, near the end of March or the beginning of April, crew coaches at Mount St. Joseph Academy decide it’s time for a newly-hatched generation of Mounties to leave the nest and spread their oars in their first interscholastic races. Last weekend, on the second Sunday of the annual Manny Flick regatta series, the Magic’s Class of 2018 made its debut.

Facing some crews that got their first taste of competition a little earlier, the Mount’s freshman eight finished third in the faster of two heats. From the coxswain’s seat, Nina Taglianetti addressed oarswomen (stroke to bow) Kerry Faust, Jen DeGroat, Gabi Natale, Faith Hughes, Cathryn Antonacio, Grace Sowa, Maddie Curran, and Maddy Sandquist. They completed their first outing in five minutes, 40.28 seconds, behind Merion Mercy (5:21.51) and Montclair (N.J.) High School’s ‘A’ boat (5:31.35) and ahead of Montclair ‘B’ (5:44.49) and Haddonfield (N.J.) High (5:47.91).

The although “novice” class boats may contain first-year rowers who are older, the Mount’s crew in the novice eight event last Sunday was entirely made up of freshman. Winning the second of three flights in the category were cox Maddie Walsh and Kaitlin Eney (stroke), Claudia Langella, Julia Flynn, Erica Arnold, Sam Cordero, Mia DiGregorio, Aileen Mansfield, and Lily Tubman.

Finishing in 5:58.69, the MSJ rookies topped the runner-up in their race, Philadelphia City Rowing ‘B’ by more than half a minute. Merion put up the fastest time overall out of the first flight, at 5:51.11, while the winning time in the third section was 10 seconds slower than the Magic. Next up for Mount St. Joe were the JV four contests, where the Magic won both the third and fourth flights under the guidance of assistant coach Alana “Queen of Quartets” McCloy, who rowed for the Mount (’10) and Villanova University.

In the third flight, Mount ‘A’ (cox Shannon LoStracco and Allie DiPietro, Celine Mina, Paige Comtois, and Emma Veon) hit the wire in 5:50.44, with a Merion Mercy boat coming in second in 6:06.72. Next, Mount ‘B’ (cox Kathleen Brooks and Brayslin Gallagher, Anna Gallagher, Brooke Gimaro, and Brianna McBride) got the job done in 5:56.99, ahead of runner-up Harriton High School (6:00.20). The fastest time out of the first two flights was a 5:59.52 by New Jersey’s Oakcrest High.

The lightweight four was almost as successful, coming in second in its contest with the third-fastest time overall. A figure of 5:52.38 was produced by Julia Bushold (stroke), Emma French, Liz DeGroat, and Maddie Finnegan under the direction of cox Annarose Clark. That put the Magic in between Vineland (N.J.) High School (5:45.23) and Agnes Irwin (5:57.23) within their own group, while in the other section Jersey’s Absegami High was timed in 5:49.58.

There was more lightweight fun to come. In the eight, a pound-challenged crew of Lindsey Maiale (cox), Erin McGreevey (stroke), Vicki Matsinger, Shannon Hughes, Zoe Ramos, Grace Little, Molly Whalen, Kate Cordero, and Rachel Sandquist won the first flight in 4:58.55. In that race, Holy Spirit High (Absecon, N.J.) was runner-up in 5:00.44, with Merion third in 5:03.01. Montclair won the other light eight flight at a more leisurely pace, 5:08.78.

Diverging from their original line-ups, the Mount’s JV eight and second eight swapped bow rowers and coxswains, and both boats finished first. Transferring to the JV eight, cox Olivia Kylander and first chair Michelle Lipovsky joined Brooke McMahon (stroke), Julia Comerford, Demi Simms, Alex Natale, Julianna Hunt, Mia Fitzpatrick, and Cait Hagan.

They defeated Haddonfield by a dozen seconds (5:10.80 to 5:22.16), with third-place Vineland arriving at the line another half-minute later. The Mounties were edged for top time overall by Montclair, which won the first of the three flights in 5:04.14.

Meanwhile, original JV members Emily Woodrow (cox) and Grace Comerford (bow) were settling into the second eight along with Sam Altomare, Alana Cianciulli, Brynn McGillin, Jenny DiPietro, Danielle Kosman, Nina Lawlor, and Emma Tenzinger. There were only three entries in this category, and Mount St. Joe (5:11.98) took top honors ahead of Holy Spirit (5:17.95) and Maryland’s Walt Whitman High School (5:28.76).

In the varsity eight category, regatta officials had taken the top performers from the first Flick on March 22 and had made the first flight clearly the strongest of the three races last Sunday. The Magic proved up to the challenge, thanks to cox Sabrina Ghantous and her stick-swingers, Steph Eble, Christina Knox, Olivia Tice-Carroll, Maddie Lauinger, Alaina Hunt, Maddie Carlton, Dana Mischler, and Alex Uzzo.

Racing in the middle of the course in lane three and heading Holy Spirit by just a few feet with a few hundred meters to go, the Mounties made a move when the boats were halfway past Peter’s Island. Their rivals in lane two tried to respond but couldn’t make any gains, and the Magic won, 4:58.51 to 5:00.89. Next, at 5:05.85, was Merion Mercy, which won a duel for that third place by just four-hundredths of a second over Walt Whitman. Bonner/Prendergast High School was six seconds behind those two.

The race was, indeed, much faster than the next two, where the winners were Archbishop Carroll (5:19.75) and Montclair (5:13.17).