GFS senior James Wright, who has signed with Stanford University, is pictured winning the varsity single gold medal at the SRAA Regatta last spring. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In high school rowing’s “second season” – the fall – there are enough competitive events on offer to keep area crews in trim, and it’s also the time when senior rowers begin formally committing to colleges.

As usual, it’s been a busy fall for Mount St. Joseph Academy, which has also undertaken a major renovation project at its Conshohocken boathouse.
As the autumn campaign kicked off in late September with the Kings Head Regatta, the Magic separated the top rowers from its eight-oared boats into a number of fours.

Later, with their true varsity eight ensemble in place, the Magic won that event at the Philadelphia Navy Day Regatta in mid-October. Also on Navy Day, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sent out a boys’ quad containing Elliot Cunningham, Thomas Leichner, Justin Xin, and Elliot Rusk that finished eighth in a field of 31 boats.

In the Mount St. Joseph flagship, senior Maddie Walsh ran the show from the coxswain’s compartment, and the oarswomen were (from stroke seat to bow) senior Karsen Healy, junior Katie Edling, junior Caroline Timoney (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy graduate), seniors Brynn Pelletier, Cathryn Antonacio and Gabi Natale, junior Gia Hunt and senior Maddy Sandquist.

Seeing occasional duty as reserves were senior Erica Arnold and sophomore Mae Sweeney.

Natale will be following her older sister Alex (MSJ ’17) to the University of Tennessee, and Walsh will also become a Lady Vol. Another tandem is headed for the University of Alabama; Antonacio and Pelletier. Arnold has committed to Georgetown, and coxswain Abby Schwenger (another Norwood alum) will sign on with the University of Miami.

Germantown Friends had a number of scullers on the water in the fall season, and the big news for the Tigers was a major college signing. Hill resident James Wright has decided to row for Stanford University. As a junior last spring, he won the varsity single final at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America national regatta, and over the summer he rowed in a Team USA quad at the Junior World Championships in Lithuania.

After the first few fall races, high school crews routinely competed in the same categories as club crews staffed by accomplished rowers from a number of different schools. On the third weekend of October, Mount St. Joe traveled to the venerable Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, where the V8 wound up as the top single-school crew while placing eighth overall.

Germantown Friends’ Wright also made the trip north and placed second in the Men’s Youth Singles event.

October wrapped up with the two-day Head of the Schuylkill gathering, and on the first day a Mount alumni eight finished first over a field of college alumni crews. The following day the current varsity placed fourth overall in the midst of a number of club crews.

The second weekend of November saw the fall season draw to a close with the back-to-back Philadelphia Frostbite Regatta and the Bill Braxton Memorial Regatta. There was no actual final in the Frostbite; the Mount won its heat in the varsity eight. At the Braxton the Mount was the top single-school boat, finishing as overall runner-up to the club crew from New Jersey’s Mercer/PNRA organization.

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