by Tom Utescher

Members of the Mount St. Joseph varsity eight line up with their gold medals after the City Championships last Sunday. From left, Maggie Rush (cox), Dana Lerro (stroke), Meredith Bracken, Katie O’Connell, Darian DiCianno, Rose Ehrlich, Julie McGlynn, Katie Casebeer, Emily Carbone. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

“Then they started to fly; they looked backward and said goodbye.” Blue Oyster Cult

All’s well that ends well. After a collision on the course in one race last Sunday and a sub-par performance by one of its premier crews in another, Mount St. Joseph Academy capped off its performance at the 2011 City Championships by winning a gold medal in the marquee event, the varsity eight.

The Mount varsity won their semifinal race early in the afternoon, although their time was not as fast as the figure put up in the other semi by Radnor High School. In the finals at the end of the day, the Magic triumphed by two seconds over Radnor (4:47.34/4:49.31), which had beaten the Mount in two of their three previous head-to-head meetings.

The three seniors in the Mount’s relatively young and under-sized V-8 are Norwood Fontbonne Academy graduates Meredith Bracken (Drexel) and Maggie Rush (Georgetown) and Hill resident Kate Casebeer (Boston College). Rush is the coxswain and Bracken and Casebeer occupy the seven and two seats, respectively. The rest of the crew are all juniors: Dana Lerro (stroke), Katie O’Connell (six), Darian DiCianno (five), Rose Ehrlich (four), Julie McGlynn (three), and Emily Carbone (bow).

“Radnor’s a very fast boat, and that made us faster,” Rush explained, noting that the Magic also got a motivational push from racing against powerful club crews Connecticut Boat Club and Community Rowing Inc. (Boston) at the Saratoga (N.Y.) Invitational the previous weekend.

“They’re both really big, strong crews, so when you race them, you have to try and take it to a whole other level,” she said. “Losing can make you better, if you know how to learn from it. You want to win even more.”

The Mount’s journey through the City finals last Sunday began with a gold medal effort, as well. The novice eight “A” boat (Addie Jones (cox), Natalie Keane (stroke), Quinn Devore, Dana Zielinski, Frannie McDermott, Abigail Shreero, Lexi Meister, Bridget Fitzpatrick, Emily McHugh) finished second to Merion Mercy in the qualifying head races in the morning, but beat Merion by just over a second in the finals later on.

The Magic’s novice “B” (Lauren Woodrow (cox), Caroline Carbone (stroke), Nadine Ghantous, Jennifer Lawlor, Marissa Mulligan, Katie Gresko, Christina Vosbikian, Hanna Leonard, Ellie McGlynn), third in the qualifier, won the bronze medal in the finals.

The freshman eight (Madi Kist (cox), Natalie Simms (stroke), Elizabeth McKernan, Michela Karrash, Lauren Matchett, Maddie Lawn, Jocelyn Ziemniak, Sarah Curcio, Leah Ramos) also displayed consistency in its two performances. The freshmen qualified with a fourth-place time (the top six from the head races advanced in each event in the regatta), and after challenging for the bronze medal down the stretch, they placed fourth in the finals as well.

Several older crews did not live up to expectations. In the lightweight eight category, the Magic had gone through the entire 2009 and 2010 seasons without losing to another high school crew, but on Sunday they had to settle for a bronze medal. They tried to mount a late sprint from an inside lane, but fell short of both Holy Spirit and Bishop Eustace. The MSJ lights (Erin McElroy (cox), Molly Tenzinger (stroke), Kait Loftus, Paige Flynn, Leah McGlynn, Meg Bresnahan, Katie McCormick, Kate Mirabella, Colette McNeela) had been fifth in the head racing.

After qualifying for the finals with a third-place time, Mount St. Joe’s JV eight collided with a rival boat in the finals and was disqualified.

The second eight fared better, going straight to the finals since there were only six entries in their event. The Mounties (Mary Raggazino (cox), Steph Henrich (stroke), Cathleen Keene, Lauren Hamilton, Maddie Wescott, Sarah Krmpotich, Anna DelRicci, Katelyn Keane, Bobbie Sutton) captured the silver medal, coming in behind victorious Radnor.

The day ended with the V-8 final. Overall, the Magic certainly aren’t the most physically imposing crew around, but the rowers all have a good idea of what’s required of them when the medal races arrive.

“We’ve always been a technically sound crew,” Rush said. “Recently we’ve been focusing on speed work and power, being fast at the start and at the sprint. That came into play today.”

Near the lower tip of Peter’s Island, Radnor made one last run at the Magic, getting their bowball amidships of the MSJ eight, then the Mount widened the gap a bit after that.

“I think we started our sprint a little after they did,” Rush related. “They might have gotten a couple strokes in on us, but my crew saw that they were walking and we didn’t want to back down.”

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