by Tom Utescher
*Note: This story was corrected from a prior version. The errors stemmed from mistakes made by the regatta organizers in published results.
A number of area rowers are looking to hone their skills over the summer, and around two dozen of them raced alongside Kelly Drive last weekend at the Independence Day Regatta, which traces its origins back to the 1880’s.
Once the middle of June rolls around, members of high school teams disperse, and many begin training at various clubs along Boathouse Row and elsewhere. Collegiate rowers home for summer are also part of the mix.
Although Penn Charter rising senior Sally Stanley and junior Kelsey White had a lot of success rowing together in double during the scholastic spring season, they’re stationed a few doors down from one another on the Row this summer.
At the Independence Day Regatta, Stanley and PC classmate Jean Gleason earned a gold medal, rowing at opposite ends of a Junior Quad based at the Vesper Boat Club. White is lodged at the Fairmount Rowing Association, and she picked up a bronze medal last weekend in the Junior 16 Quad. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy alum Jen Sager (Trinity ’16), working out of Vesper, took the bronze in the Lightweight Double.
Participating in an unusual event, Germantown Friends School grad Ethan Genyk, who just completed his freshman year at Penn, won a gold medal as part of the Undine Barge Club/Conshohocken Rowing Center octuple scull vessel.
Kate Horvat, a 2014 Germantown Academy grad currently rowing for Yale, joined her father Paul in the Father/Daughter Double category, winning a silver medal for Vesper. The younger Horvat also raced in different events for the Conshohocken. She and new GA graduate Jess Zettlemoyer (Boston College) came in fourth in finals of the Intermediate Double event, and individually, Zettlemoyer won a bronze medal in the Junior Single.
Among those participating in the first round of racing at the IDR were Penn Charter’s Gordon Robertson (’16), and Mitch Sibson (’18), and Germantown Friends rising senior Becca Genyk (younger sister of Ethan). They all raced out of Fairmount, while two other GFS Tigers, junior Gabe Sher and sophomore Rei Marshall, represented the University Barge Club. GA senior Bri Owen was rowing under the aegis of Vesper, and PC’s Rachel Gordon (’15) and rising junior Emma Grugan were based at Undine.
With Stanley in the stroke seat and Gleason in bow, Vesper won the initial time trials in the Junior Quad, where a Fairmount boat containing rising GA senior Katie Aemisegger qualified third. Both then placed first in different semifinal races, and Vesper, which won its semi easily, captured the gold medal by a little over two seconds in the final, timed in 7:09.50 on the 2000-meter course. The Fairmount boat placed fifth in 7:20.87.
GA’s Aemisegger was part of a Junior Eight, as well; in its first outing this boat missed the qualifying cut by one place.
Stanley was also in a second event, racing in a junior double with Tal Gilad, a 2015 Hatboro Horsham High School grad who is heading to M.I.T. in the fall. Their boat became one of the 18 qualifiers (out of 40 entries) by placing sixth in the time trials, while a Fairmount double featuring PC’s White was timed 15th and also moved on. Fairmount’s run ended with a fourth-place showing in one of three semifinals (the top two in each race advanced). Stanley’s boat won one of the other semi’s and then finished sixth in the final round.
White was more successful in her Junior 16 Quad. Starting out in one of three heats, Fairmount won its section to move directly into the finals, then the Charter junior and her colleagues captured a bronze medal behind two out-of-state crews.
In the men’s Junior Double, PC had 2015 grads Ethan Ashley and Ethan Grugan launching out of Fairmount and Undine, respectively. Grugan was paired up with Charter rising junior Stephen Flemming, while Ashley was working with a sculler from another school.
Both boats joined the 18 qualifiers advancing out of the initial starting field of 46 entries; Fairmount timed in at 11th, and Undine, 16th. Only the top two finishers in each of the three semifinals would reach the final race. In different semifinal groups, Ashley ended up fifth and the Flemming/Grugan combo was sixth.
The third Ethan with local connections, Genyk, raced an Intermediate Lightweight Quad before finishing his weekend in the octuple. Third in one of the two opening heats in the quad event, he and his Undine crew mates advanced to the finals and finished fifth there late on Saturday afternoon.
Former Springsider Sager (’12), who just helped the Trinity College varsity eight win its second straight NCAA Division III championship, placed second in her heat of the Lightweight Double last weekend, earning her passage straight into the final race.
Qualifying one spot behind her in that opening race was a Fairmount double containing former Mount St. Joseph standout Erika McCormick (Harvard ’13). Another Vesper combo won the final, while Sager her companion snagged the bronze medal and McCormick’s Fairmount vessel finished fifth.
In her other IDR venture, in the Lightweight Intermediate Four class, Sager encountered a current SCH student, rising junior Sofia Djerassi. She was based at Penn A.C., which originally entered two crews in this event. When the other boat dropped out, the entire field consisted of Djerassi’s outfit and Sager’s Vesper bunch. In the two-boat final on Sunday, Vesper won in 7:21.72 and Penn A.C. was second in 7:40.41.
In the Father/Daughter Double, Chestnut Hillers Paul and Kate Horvat won a sprint in their first race to capture their heat and reach the finals.
In the medal race, they came in second behind a family franchise from Fairmount.
In one of three initial heats in the Intermediate Double on Saturday morning, Horvat and Zettlemoyer were grouped in with two Mount alums, Liz McKernan (Boston College ’18) and Maura O’Donnell (Fordham ’17). The top two would make the finals, and while the two GA grads advanced with a victory, the former Mounties came in fifth.
In the finals, the erstwhile Patriots emerged as the top American twosome, coming in fourth after three Canadian combos. On Sunday, McKernan and O’Donnell placed sixth in the Intermediate Lightweight Double finals.
Zettlemoyer, highly successful in a single during the 2015 scholastic season, qualified third out of 21 entries in the IDR time trials for the Junior Single. A second-place performance in one of the two semifinals moved her into the final race, where she collected the bronze medal.
Horvat also performed individually. She was a Conshohocken Rowing Center entry in the Intermediate Single event, along with Chierika Ukogu, a Mount St. Joseph alum who graduated from Stanford in 2014. Both were among the 12 competitors who moved past the time trials, Horvat ranking sixth and Ukogu eighth. For a berth in the finals, a top-two finish in one of the three semifinals was required. In different sections, Horvat and Ukogu each wound up third.
As the regatta wound down on Sunday afternoon, it was time for the aquatic version of monster centipedes to scramble down the Schuylkill. Not many regattas feature a category for the 16-oared octuple, which contains eight scullers with an oar in each hand. Here, Ethan Genyk helped his Undine/Conshy hybrid crew win the gold medal in 6:42.43, defeating the runner-up from Massachusetts by eight seconds.