Chestnut Hill’s Tom Walker, a junior who rows the seven seat in the La Salle High School varsity eight, helped the Explorers win by 16 seconds in the first Manny Flick race last Sunday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last Sunday there was a St. Patrick’s Day parade down to Kelly Drive on the part of area rowers and their supporters as the 2013 scholastic crew campaign got underway. In the first race of the annual Manny Flick series (which is the rough equivalent of the “regular season” in other sports), oar ensembles from Germantown Friends, Penn Charter, Mount St. Joseph, and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy tested the chilly waters of the Schuylkill.

Back to lead the charge for the PC Quakers were the members of last year’s national champion junior doubles, Maria Georgiou and Heidi Zisselman, and Spencer Grant and Kevin Kelly. Georgiou and Kelly will both row for Penn, while Zisselman will join the crew at the U.S. Naval Academy. The PC program is under new, but not unfamiliar leadership this spring, as longtime assistant coach Ann Marie Kuvik, a former Temple rower, has taken over the helm.

Starting the fifth season since the revival of rowing at the school, the Charter crew community has gone “all in,” turning up last Sunday with a new tent, new banner, and a new cargo trailer.

For the first Flick, PC tested the waters by sending out a pair of senior quads, grouping Georgiou and Zisselman with Katie O’Malley and Tara Malone, while Grant and Kelly were joined by Jack Delaney and Sam Jolinger. This was something less than a resounding success; up against rivals who row quads all the time, the two PC boats each came in fifth in their respective races.

Earlier in the day, junior Isa Djerassi and sophomore Sophie Eldridge fared much better in their JV double, placing second in their race. The Quakers also snagged second place in the boys’ JV quad, thanks to sophomores Peter Ciarrocchi, Chad Coursen, Ethan Grugan, and Jimmy Paolini.

In that same flight of the JV quad, the lads from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy brought up the rear of a four-boat pack, but the male Blue Devils enjoyed more success elsewhere. Their day started off with the JV double event, where junior James Meadows and sophomore Matt Miller won the faster of the two flights by a full 10 seconds.

Later on, SCH seniors Seth Bakes and Alec Horter found themselves in the speedier section of the varsity double category, and turned in a third-place finish. However, in the varsity quad event near the end of the day’s racing, the Devils didn’t have any more luck than the PC Quakers, coming in sixth while Roman Catholic (who’s at it all year round) looked quite strong and put up the best time overall.

The SCH boys are regrouping this spring under a new coach, Meredith Mariani. She learned the sport on the Schuylkill while competing for the Baldwin School, and lately she’s been residing, and coaching, in Virginia. She and her family are currently relocating to the Philadelphia area.

The new SCH skipper on the girls’ side, Julia Rorer, spent a year coaching at Baldwin, but she is an alumna of the old Springside School (’05). She made coaching stops at Moorestown High School and Agnes Irwin before returning to her old sculling grounds at the University Barge Club.

Rorer’s top two quads both did well on Sunday. The JV crew, made up of juniors Devon McAllister and Alana Noble and sophomores Camora Love-Mitchell and Courtney McElwee, won by 13 seconds and produced the best time out of two flights. The varsity came in second in its race behind a Conestoga High School quad that put up the top time in the class. Here, the Blue Devils sent out seniors Anna Rose Bedrosian, Mia Gold, and Chelsea Richardson along with junior Elizabeth McClafferty.

There were two other first-place results for the SCH girls, both coming in freshman and novice races where only two boats were competing. Lisa Burckhardt and Karley Kochenour triumphed in the novice double, and their ninth-grade classmates Carly Plotkin, Aakanksha Sharma, Cara Stapleton, and Jenna Yorko took first in the freshman quad.

Two lads in singles represented Germantown Friends in the first Flick, with junior Ethan Genyk winning the JV race by seven seconds, and 12th-grader Andrew Bair placing second in the faster of two flights in the senior category.

On Mount St. Joseph Academy’s usual patch near the entrance of the grandstand parking lot, it was rumored that the new additions to the Magic’s tent complex required a city zoning permit.

Erdenheim’s own Kiera McCloy, a senior who has signed with Villanova, is the only rower back from the Mount’s outstanding 2012 varsity eight, and traditional rivals feel the time is right to overtake the Magic. The first time out, the opposing oarswomen didn’t get it done.

McCloy was joined by classmates Annie Tenzinger (a coxswain headed to Boston College), Kate Mirabella (Princeton), and Kait Loftus (Columbia) and by juniors Maddie Lawn, Natalie Simms, Lauren Matchett, and Leah Ramos and sophomore Steph Eble as the Magic won a side-by-side duel with Merion Mercy, checking in at five minutes, 1.92 seconds to the Golden Bears’ 5:03.18.

Radnor High School, the big dog in the area in the 2011 season, came in third in 5:08.06. It was an encouraging debut for the Mount, considering the almost complete turnover of the personnel in its flagship, and the fact that Loftus and Mirabella go gentle on the scales and have been career lightweights up until this year.

The next MSJ generation will be ready to step up, if Sunday’s JV eight race is any indicator. Here, junior cox Madi Kist called the tune for classmates Ariene Merkel, Christina Vosbikian, and Jocelyn Ziemniak and for sophomores Jenny DiPietro, Tina Hendel, Alaina Hunt, Danielle Kosman, and Brynn McGillin. The Magic jayvee jumped all over the rest of the field, crossing the wire more than 12 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

Catholic Academies league rival Merion was able to take the Mount’s measure in a pair of lightweight races, winning each contest while the Magic came in second.

In the lightweight four, the runners-up were juniors Ellie McGlynn and Lauren Woodrow, and sophomores Sophia Cocozza, Sabrina Ghantous (cox), and Emma Tenzinger. In the eights race, where there were only two entries, the Mounties sent out seniors Lexi Meister, Maura O’Donnell, and Mary Raggazino (cox), juniors Bridget Fitzpatrick, Michela Karrash, Emily McHugh, Liz McKernan, Abigail Shreero, and sophomore Josie Marrocco.

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