by Tom Utescher
Some 2015 graduates and a number of younger scholastic rowers from area schools competed on the Schuylkill for the final time this summer at last Saturday’s Philadelphia Youth Regatta. Participants must be 18 years old or younger throughout the current calendar year, and within the field of eligible rowers there are some age restricted categories.
Continuing her outstanding 2015 season as a solo rower, Germantown Academy’s Jess Zettlemoyer won the second of four flights in the Girls J18 (Junior classification, 18-years) Single by 14 seconds with a time of 8:48.59 over 2000 meters. A 2015 graduate bound for Boston College, Zettlemoyer put up the fastest time overall by eight seconds.
At the end of the day a series of novelty races called dashes were staged on a quarter-mile (just over 400 meters) course. Here, the GA standout was third in her flight and fourth overall, while in the other flight of this event rising Penn Charter junior Emma Grugan (rowing for Undine Barge Club) came in third and was sixth in time.
In this one-day regatta there isn’t a progressive bracket for each event; rowers race once in one of multiple flights. An individual rower may enter more than one event at the regatta, though. Each flight winner receives an award, and medals are presented to the boats with the top three times overall.
Unlike Zettlemoyer, most of the young athletes with local connections were working out of sites on Boathouse Row, chiefly Undine, Fairmount Rowing Association, and Vesper Boat Club.
In one of the first events on the schedule, three Penn Charter girls raced separately in the J18 Quad. Working from Fairmount at the eastern end of the Row, rising junior Kelsey White was the stroke in a boat that placed second in the opening flight and was ranked sixth overall on time (7:39.03). Right ahead of her in the FRA shell, in the three seat, was rising Germantown Academy senior Katie Aemisegger.
At Vesper, rising PC seniors Jean Gleason and Sally Stanley served as the bow rower and stroke, respectively, in two different J18 quads that contained a number of Jersey girls from Haddonfield Memorial High School.
Haddonfield’s Abby Bentley and Kate Donahue filled the stroke and two seats in Gleason’s vessel, and a third Lady Bulldawg, Christie Castorino, was the two-seat in Stanley’s boat.
Number three in Gleason’s group was Noa Ortiz-Langleben of The Ross School on Long Island. Completing Stanley’s contingent were bow Kate Hudson of Conestoga High School, and three-seat Tal Gilad of Hatboro Horsham.
Although Stanley and some of the other Vesperettes had gotten in a 2000-meter training session even earlier that morning, her crew came in second in its flight with a number-four time of 7:33.58. Gleason’s gang was a close third within its section, and was 11th overall at 7:56.30.
The overall winner, with an impressive time of 7:20.73, was River Rowing Assoc., which is located in Nyack, N.Y. a little above the Big Apple.
Another rower launching out of Vesper was Germantown Academy rising senior Bri Owen. She was competing in the J18 double event, as was her GA classmate Aemisegger and her Fairmount partner. Owen and her crewmate won their flight by 16 seconds in 8:12.32, but the lack of a strong rival didn’t help their overall placing, as they finished eighth. In another flight, the Fairmount boat placed second in 8:29.71, a time which ranked 14th in the field of 30. New Jersey’s Cooper Training Center won in 7:55.78, pushed along by an opponent less than two seconds back.
A little before these doubles races went off, 2015 PC grad Ethan Ashley rowed for Fairmount in the Boys J18 Four, manning the stroke seat. His crew won the last of five flights by exactly six seconds in 6:56.76. That put them fourth overall in the event, which was won by a Rye, N.Y. boat in 6:53.17. Ashley is aiming to continue his crew career at Colby College.
Two other Penn Charter lads working out of Fairmount last weekend were rising sophomore Mitch Sibson and senior Gordon Robertson. Robertson (a Chestnut Hiller, but not of the floral family) was a first-year rower as a junior during the 2015 scholastic season, so he and Sibson were eligible to race together in the Boys Novice Quad category.
In the single flight of this 1000-meter race near midafternoon, the two Quakers and their colleagues collected a silver medal. Their time of 3:43.20 situated them between New Jersey’s victorious Bergen County Rowing Academy (3:37.84) and third-place Conshohocken Rowing Center (3:50.10).
Robertson and Sibson had a much rougher go earlier in the day when they rowed a J18 Double against much more experienced opponents. Their time of 8:22.28 still put them ahead of a few boats; they ranked 30th out of the 35 duos that entered.
Also in this event were two Undine boats with local ties. Matt Miller, a 2015 Springside Chestnut Hill Academy graduate who is headed for Princeton, was the stroke in one double, with rising Penn Charter junior Stephen Flemming up in the bow seat. A number-six overall time of 7:20.16 earned them second place in their flight, which was won by the fastest tandem overall, Crescent Boat Club (7:06.37).
Later, Miller rowed solo in the J18 Single, and was the unchallenged winner in the fifth of eight flights, netting a 19-second margin of victory with a time of 8:04.81. Other flights were more competitive, though, and the Blue Devil alum ranked 11th overall in the field of 42, which was headed by Vesper’s entry (7:43.52).
The other Undine boat in the J18 Double event had Garrett Otteni of Owen J. Roberts in the stroke seat, while the bow belonged to recent PC grad Ethan Grugan. Otteni and Grugan (who plans to row for Washington College) were fourth in their flight, with a 29th-overall time of 8:02.80.
In addition to doing one of the dash races at the end of the afternoon, Grugan’s sister Emma raced in a J16 Double for Undine. A little before noon, she and her partner came down the course in 8:41.68, finishing as a close runner-up in the third of seven flights (by two seconds) with a ranking of 12th overall out of 35 starters.
The first flight in this category had been won by PC’s White, who was stroking a Fairmount double that also contained rising Episcopal Academy sophomore Josie Konopka, daughter of legendary EA and Fairmount coach Molly Konopka, of Roxborough. Their time of 8:25.14 eventually produced a bronze medal as the third best overall figure, while Maroon Blades of Ridgewood, N.J. had the fastest twosome (8:18.67).
A few hours after this in the Girls J16 Quad, the North Jersey outfit also turned in the fastest time, taking the first flight in 7:57.04. The next flight was won by a Fairmount quad with White and Konopka in the bow and the stern, respectively. They were second overall in time at 8:02.71.
Fairmount was also racing a girls eight that had GA’s Aemisegger in the four seat. Here there were just two flights, and Fairmount, the top Pennsylvania boat, placed second in the second section and third in terms of time (7:34.50). Row New York won that race by just 0.15 seconds, and the top overall time of 7:27.50 came out of the first flight, won by Hudson River Rowing of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Aemisegger’s eight also took part in one of the dash races, placing second in the lone flight in its category. In the Boys Eight Dash, Fairmount and three-seater Ethan Ashley won the last of three flights and ranked second on time by just one-quarter of a second. Undine’s entries in the Boys Single Dash were Ethan Grugan, second in the last of four flights and sixth in time, and Flemming, who placed third in the opening flight and was ranked 13th on the clock.