The pioneering Germantown Friends girls achieving success in a novice quad this spring are (from left) Tessa Curry, Sophie Bartholomew, Addie McKenzie, and Becca Genyk. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In the fifth Manny Fick regatta last Sunday (the last of the annual series), athletes wielding oars for Germantown Friends, Mount St. Joseph, Penn Charter, and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy engaged in the final full race program on the Schuylkill before the big “medal” regattas begin in May. The weather remained unseasonably cool, but there was bright sunshine and the river conditions were largely benign.

Some races were held in the regular side-by-side multiple-flight format, while many of the younger rowers were given their first taste of head racing, which they will have to do in many of the major regattas late in the season. Here, boats are released from the starting line one-by-one at set intervals, and their final rankings are based solely on their times.

In the varsity single, one of the handful of rowers from Germantown Friends School, senior Andrew Bair, was the first area competitor to race. Coming in fourth in the first of three flights, he turned in a time of 5:27.56 that actually placed him ahead of 11 other athletes in this event.

The first GFS girls crew athletes extended their string of successes this spring as they took up head racing for the first time. Tessa Curry (stroke), Sophie Bartholomew, Addie McKenzie, and Becca Genyk came through with the fastest time in a field of seven novice quads.

They checked in at five minutes, 43.82 to seconds, and very close behind in second (5:45.24) was the SCH quartet of Alexa Schwartz (stroke), Jenna Yorko, Samira Baird, and Melanie Bender.

In the freshman/novice double, the Blue Devils’ Lisa Burckhardt (stroke) and Karley Kochenour were in the middle of seven head racers, finishing fourth in 6:15.42, while Conestoga High School recorded the top time of 5:55.03. Also in the middle ground of their head race group were Henney Hambrose (stroke), Comora Love-Mitchell, Emily Zuckerman and Courtney McElwee of SCH, seventh among 14 JV quad entries with their time of 5:31.91 (winner: Conestoga; 5:09.20).

Two solid boats for the Blue Devil girls this spring, the lightweight double (Alana Noble [stroke], Maddy Canning) and the varsity quad (Anna Rose Bedrosian [stroke], Liz McClafferty, Chelsea Richardson, Mia Gold) raced in flights in regular side-by-side competition. The double was third in 5:52.13 (New Jersey’s Ridgewood High won in 5:36.44), and the quad, with its time of 5:43.99, was fourth both in its flight and overall among nine total entries (Conestoga was number one in 5:18.93).

For the SCH boys, the JV double duo of Matt Miller (stroke) and James Meadows remained one of the school’s top performers, placing second in head racing at 4:59.23. A little faster was the top boat out of the 18 competing, St. Joe’s Prep (4:56.70). In a seven-boat head race in the novice quad, SCH secured the runner-up spot once again, with Riley Bakes (stroke), Zach Cohen, Ryan Torie and Callum Brazier finishing in 5:14.75 while Roman Catholic led the category in 5:09.91.

Still in head racing, SCH’s Thomas Andrews split the difference in the JV single, coming in fifth of nine at 5:44.36, while the winner again was Roman Catholic, in 5:24.05. The Blue Devils’ JV four landed in 10th place, but this was in a populous field of 23 vessels. Here, Mark Mulhern (cox), Andrea Dragani (stroke), Larry Wargo, Joseph Mulhern, and Will Elliott were timed in 5:07.94 while New Jersey’s Christian Brothers Academy set the standard at 4:48.04.

Another North Jersey school, Don Bosco Prep, saw its boys win the fastest flight of the varsity double in 4:57.39. They were just a fraction of a second ahead of Penn Charter’s Kevin Kelly (stroke) and Spencer Grant (4:57.85), whose time put them second among 14 twosomes in the event. In head racing in the freshman/novice double, PC’s Jeremy McDavid (stroke) and Massimo Cusumano turned in one of their best efforts this spring, ranking third out of a dozen entries in 5:43.36 (Abington High won in 5:38.39).

A third double for the Quakers, a JV tandem included in an 18-boat head race, finished fifth. Charter’s Erich Reidlmeier (stroke) and Chad Coursen completed the course in 5:10.62 (this was the same event in which SCH placed second).

In the varsity double for the girls, PC’s Heidi Zisselman (stroke) and Maria Georgiou have found it difficult to duplicate the great success they earned in the JV category last spring. On Sunday they were fourth in the first flight of the event, with a time of 5:57.16 ranking them sixth out of 10 boats in the two flights.

In JV quad head racing, Charter’s Celina McCall (stroke), Hannah Kramer, Rachel Gordon, and Isa Djerassi placed ninth in an overall field of 14. Their time of 5:35.75 put them two spots behind the SCH quad mentioned earlier.

While some of the more experienced oarswomen for Mount St. Joseph were having their seats and boats switched in attempts to pick up a few more seconds, the youngsters excelled. If the Magic newcomers continue to perform later in their careers in the same manner they’ve started, rival crews should heed the words uttered by actress Geena Davis in the 1986 remake of The Fly – “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

In the head racing, there were a full two-dozen boats in the girls novice eight event, and the Magic’s “A” crew put up the fastest time (5:00.49) while the “B” boat ranked fifth (5:20.48). The “A” line-up featured cox Lindsey Maiale giving instructions to Dana Mischler (stroke), Rachel Sandquist, Brooke McMahon, Shannon Hughes, Cait Hagan, Lauren Scheffey, Alex Uzzo, and Erin McGreevey, while in MSJ “B” cox Kathleen Brooks called cadence for Taylor Czerpak, Vicki Matsinger, Liz DeGroat, Anna Gallagher, Julia Bushold, Katie Zimmerman, Brianna McBride, and Victoria Summerville.

The Mount’s freshman eight topped a field of 10 competitors (in 4:54.02), and on this occasion both the largest and smallest girls in the boat were named Olivia. Well north of the six-foot mark, six-seat Olivia Tice-Carroll towers over coxswain Olivia Kylander. Tice-Carroll is paired with number five Maddie Lauinger, and the stern duo is Demi Simms (stroke) and Christina Knox. From four up to bow are Julianna Hunt, Maddie Carlton, Katelin Cordero, and Zoe Ramos.

The freshmen produced yet another first-place effort in a regular flight race for the fours. With Grace Little (stroke), Mia Fitzpatrick, Ella Perry, and Audrey Ezzo falling under the command of cox Emily Woodrow, the Magic brought it home in 5:39.98. This one almost looked like part of the earlier head racing, since the Mounties were 15 seconds in front of runner-up Montclair.

In the JV eight, cox Madi Kist controlled Caroline Carbone (stroke), Ariene Merkel, Brynn McGillin, Jenny DiPietro, Jocelyn Ziemniak, Alaina Hunt, Christina Vosbikian, and Quinn Devore. They were part of the head racing, coming in fourth of 19 boats in 4:59.04 while becoming the top Pennsylvania finisher behind New Jersey’s Oakcrest (4:52.54), Montclair, and Holy Spirit.

Even in the boats staffed by the most experienced MSJ oarswomen, there is still some seat swapping going on. Last weekend, the second varsity eight was the best performer, winning its flight in 5:18.11, and standing second in overall time next to the winner of the other section,

Holy Spirit (5:15.33). In the Mount two-vee, Beth Weinrich was coxswain for Maddie Wescott (stroke), Emily Ruddy, Gwyn Kieffer, Fiona Kelly, Marissa Mulligan, Jacqueline James, Danielle Kosman, and Rachel Heller.

Spirit beat the Magic head-to-head in two other events, winning the lightweight eight and coming in second in the varsity eight, while the Mount was third in both races.

Mary Raggazino was coxing the lightweights, presiding over Emily McHugh (stroke), Abby Shreero, Josie Marrocco, Maura O’Donnell, Kate Mirabella, Bridget Fitzpatrick, Lexi Meister, and Liz McKernan. Spirit, the light eight to beat all season, won in 4:52.16, with Merion Mercy a close second in 4:53.52 and Mount St. Joe lagging a little in 4:58.45.

Cox Annie Tenzinger was at the controls of the Mount V-8, and the engine components consisted of Maddie Lawn (stroke), Natalie Simms, Steph Eble, Kiera McCloy, Lauren Matchett, Kait Loftus, Michela Karrash, and Leah Ramos. Due to their earlier success in the Flicks, the Magic were assigned one of the coveted center lanes (number three), but next door in lane two Holy Spirit was able to avenge a loss the Mount St. Joe in the fourth Manny Flick, this time placing second in 4:36.10 while the Magic came in third in 4:40.14.

Nonetheless, everyone in this class had to pay homage to James Madison High School of Vienna, Va. With no local performances to use for seeding purposes by the Flick officials, the suburban Washington crew was slotted in the famously slow (in most conditions) lane six alongside Peter’s Island. The Warhawks still were able to grind out a five-second victory in 4:31 flat.

In a race within the race, the Magic came out ahead in a pitched battle for third, fighting off late sprints by Archbishop Carroll, which was fourth in 4:41.45, and by Bishop Eustace, fifth in 4:41.56. All crews in this six-boat first flight were faster than anyone in the other two races in the varsity eight category.

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