by Tom Utescher

Mount Crew College Commitments – A strong performance during the fall crew season was reflected in the first wave of college signings and acceptances for Mount St. Joseph Academy rowers. In the Division I early signing period that began in November, final agreements were reached by seniors Michela Karrash (Boston College), Lauren Matchett (Notre Dame), Leah Ramos (George Washington), and Natalie Simms (St. Joseph’s) according to MSJ varsity crews coach Mike McKenna.

In addition, Victoria Porretti has received a scholarship to Nova Southeastern University, a Division II school in Florida, while fellow coxswain Madi Kist has gained early admission to Stanford University. So-called “likely letters” from Ivy League institutions have been received by a third coxswain, Megan Mirabella (Princeton), and by rower Maddie Lawn (Columbia). Mirabella’s older sister Kate is currently a freshman in the Princeton program.

Kist and Mirabella both served as coxes for the MSJ varsity eight this fall. Ramos was in the seven seat and Lawn in six, while Matchett was stationed in the two seat and Simms was in bow. Current junior Steph Eble, a member of the U.S. Junior CanAmMex Games team this past summer, stroked the V-8, and classmate Alaina Hunt was in the four seat.

Sophomore Maddie Lauinger was a constant in the varsity line-up. most often at number five, and two other members of last year’s strong freshman eight, Maddie Carlton and Christina Knox, also made appearances in the MSJ flagship this fall.

A relatively youthful group, the varsity Mounties improved throughout the autumn events. Coming in third in the Kings Head Regatta and in the Navy Day race, and they were fourth at the Head of the Schuylkill behind an elite English eight from Headington School and two out-of-town club crews. At the Head of the Charles in Boston, the Magic placed 12th overall, the best result for any Philadelphia area high school.

“It was roughly where we finished last year,” said McKenna, “which I was pleased with since this is a younger boat than last year’s group. We also had our second eight finish 33rd, which means both of them qualify to race next year.”

The fall season traditionally ends in November with the Philadelphia Frostbite Regatta and the Bill Braxton Memorial Regatta, held back-to-back on the same weekend. There was no grand final scheduled in the Frostbite, but the five Mount St. Joe eights that entered won each of the five heats races that were run.

The next day, high winds in the afternoon caused the cancellation of many of the finals in the Braxton. Instead, the fastest boats in the various time trials received the awards, and the Magic had the best result in the varsity eight class.

GFS runners at Regionals – As usual, Germantown Friends’ cross country season extended more than a month beyond October’s Pa. Independent Schools Championship. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Tigers made their familiar trip up along the Hudson River to Wappingers Falls, N.Y. in order to compete in the Nike Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships.

The GFS girls, who had won the Pa. Indy Schools meet, placed 19th in an elite field of 35 teams in the championship division race, where first place went to Delaware County’s Unionville High School. Although she’d played on the soccer team all fall, sophomore Sarah Walker was the top Tigers finisher, coming in 63rd overall with a time of 20 minutes, 9.6 seconds. More than 250 runners participated in the championship race.

“Pretty good considering it was her first 5K ever, and it’s a pretty demanding course,” observed Germantown coach Rob Hewitt. “Unfortunately, we just never found our confidence as a group, so it was sort of a mixed bag for us. Allison Love [a senior] and Griffin Kaulbach [a freshman] ran phenomenal, but not everyone had a great day.”

Love ran a 20:27.1 for 82nd place overall, and Kaulbach was 123rd with a time of 20:57.1. Between the two were the other GFS scorers, junior Brigit Andersson (117th/20:50.2) and sophomore Caitlin Harrity (118th/20:51.1).

Hewitt said that judging by previous results for the teams in attendance, the Tigers placed almost exactly where they would’ve been expected to finish.

“There’s not a lot of excitement in that,” Hewitt said, “but one thing I hope we took away from it is a better understanding of what it takes to achieve at that level.”

The GFS boys, who were third at the Independent Schools meet this year, had not always been scheduled to make the trip to the Nike race.

“They decided after the Independent meet that they wanted to put in the training and go up there,” Hewitt related. “I wanted them to really make the choice for themselves, and not just go because the teams before them did it.”

Freshman standout Nick Dahl had to stay out of the competition as he let a shin injury heal, but even without him the Tigers ran well in the open division race for the boys.

“They’re learning to be successful, and they had a very good day,” Hewitt said. “Grayson Hepp and James Finney had one of the best races they’ve had all season, and Andy Bugos and Peter Jarka-Sellers also did well.”

GFS was the second-place team after New Jersey’s Christian Brothers Academy, and Hepp, a sophomore, was the individual winner in 16:53.3, edging out Christian Brothers junior Josh Kruppa by two-tenths of a second at the finish line.

Finney was second for GFS and 13th overall in 17:19.2, and fellow senior Jarka-Sellers was 25th in 17:33.8. Sophomore Gordon Goldstein placed 37th in 17:51.3, and Bugos, a 12th-grader, was the fifth scorer for GFS, coming in 54th overall in 18:15.3.

Meanwhile, Mt. Airy native and 2013 Penn Charter graduate Catie Skinner is enjoying success as she continues her cross country career at Middlebury College. A former Inter-Ac League and Pa. Independent Schools champion, Skinner finished her freshman season of college at the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships.

For this race, teams customarily enter their second seven runners, while the premier seven prepare for the NCAA Regionals. Skinner showed she’ll be ready to move up to the varsity by winning the ECAC meet, which took place in Bristol, R.I. Covering the 6000-meter course in 22 minutes, 30 seconds, the former PC Quaker finished 10 seconds ahead of the runner-up and helped Middlebury’s women win the meet for the fifth year in a row.

Her time in the race put her roughly a minute behind the figure recorded by the Panthers’ number one runner at the NCAA regional event.

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