by Tom Utescher
In the fall, rowing’s “second season”, there’s not much going on in a lot of high school boathouses. That’s not the case with the Mount St. Joseph crew, which had six and sometimes seven eight-oared vessels working out on the Schuylkill and competing in fall races.
In the primary scholastic rowing season last spring, the Magic had repeated as varsity eight champion of the prestigious Stotesbury Cup Regatta, and had taken the gold medal in the lightweight eight class, as well.
After the 2015 fall campaign wrapped up recently, longtime varsity crews coach Mike McKenna was encouraged about the school’s chances next spring.
“This year is promising,” he said. “We have six of the rowers back from our varsity eight and all of the rowers back from the light eight, although they may not all end up in the same boats this spring. After that, we have a really strong senior class to fill in our second eight.”
The second eight is usually staffed by older open-weight rowers who are not members of the V-8 crew; in a separate JV or “junior” eight category, seniors are prohibited.
“Our coxswains are very strong, as well,” McKenna added.
Senior Lindsay Maiale is a proven cox who issued the orders for the successful 2015 light eight, and her classmate Emily Woodrow claimed a Stotesbury silver medal as pilot of the JV eight.
McKenna also specifically mentioned fellow senior Olivia Kylander and junior Shannon LoStracco.
For rowers of all ages, the best known of the major autumn events is Boston’s Head of the Charles Regatta, and this year the 51st edition of the extravaganza was staged on October 17 and 18.
The Mount Magic entered both a varsity eight and a hybrid “B’ eight. The first group finished 13th overall among the “women’s youth eights”, covering the three-mile course in 17 minutes, 56.779 seconds, while MSJ “B” came in 16th in 18:02.777.
Given the make-up of the two crews, Coach McKenna was very pleased with the outcome for the second group, but felt the regular varsity could’ve had a slightly better row. There would be more upside to come for the varsity eight over the next few weeks, though.
As usual, almost all of the boats that finished ahead of the Mounties at the HOC were entered by club crews who each employ rowers from a number of different schools. The only single-school eight to top the Magic was Suburban Chicago power New Trier High School, which came in tenth in 17:44.208.
The Mount St. Joe varsity eight was directed by Maiale and rowed by (stroke to bow) seniors Erin McGreevey and Christina Knox, junior Grace Comerford, and seniors Maddie Lauinger, Julianna Hunt, Maddy Carlton, Dana Mischler, and Alex Uzzo.
The cox for the “B” boat, Woodrow, presided over a mixture of different types of rowers, most of whom will eventually filter into the Mount’s lightweight eight and second eight. They were seniors Julia Comerford, Vicki Matsinger, and Olivia Tice-Carroll, junior Alex Natale, and seniors Mia Fitzpatrick, Brooke McMahon, Rachel Sandquist, and Katelin Cordero.
The Comerford sisters are graduates of Norwood Fontbonne Academy, and Julia will continue on from the Mount to row for Fordham University, along with classmates Maiale and McGreevey. Knox is headed to Penn, Lauinger to Stanford, Uzzo to Cornell, and Mischler to George Washington.
Tice-Carroll has committed to Boston University, Cordero to the University of Miami, McMahon to the University of Rhode Island, and Fitzpatrick to the University of Delaware.
Fellow senior Cait Hagan has picked Georgetown and Demi Simms will join older sister Natalie (MSJ ’14) at St. Joseph’s.
The Magic’s fall season had gotten underway with the Kings Head Regatta in late September, but the Mount regarded this as more of a warm-up and raced in fours instead of its customary eights. The Mounties launched their long ships for the Navy Day Regatta on October 10, when the varsity took second place behind the Princeton National Rowing Association, a club organization.
After the sojourn to Boston the following weekend, Mount St. Joe was back in Philly for the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta on October 24 and 25.
McKenna commented, “Once the seniors wrapped up most of their recruiting visits in the middle of October, we had everybody at practice every day. The boats became a little more consistent, a little quicker.”
In addition to the eight oarswomen who were in the varsity boat in Boston, Hagan and Tice-Carroll also spent time in the MSJ flagship this fall. The powerful Tice-Carroll, who filled the six seat in the V-8 last spring, has been rehabbing a shoulder injury.
“That process is going along well,” said McKenna, “and I expect at some point she’ll force her way back into the V-8. It’s not a bad problem for us to have.”
He suggests that this edition of the Mount varsity eight will feature a good blend of muscle and method.
“They have the horsepower, but they also row very well technically,” he observed.
At the Head of the Schuylkill, Mount St. Joe placed second to Connecticut’s Saugatuck Rowing Club, which is the defending U.S. Rowing Youth Nationals champion and which the weekend before had produced a record-setting victory on the Charles River. The Mounties finished ahead of another traditionally powerful club crew from the Nutmeg State, Connecticut Boat Club.
In a 2000-meter sprint racing event on New Jersey’s Mercer Lake, league rival Merion Mercy nipped the Mount in the Frostbite Regatta on Saturday, November 7. The Golden Bears won in a time of 6:47.370 to the Magic’s figure of 6:49.690. The Princeton club, on its home course, came in third in 6:50.250.
The next day the Mount was back on top at the Bill Braxton Memorial Regatta, a 1500-meter event staged on the familiar Kelly Drive course on the Schuylkill. The Magic varsity was first in 5:15.010 and the PNRA was runner-up in 5:16.540 while Merion came in third at 5:17.190. In this final outing of 2015, Mount St. Joe’s own “B” boat placed fourth with a time of 5:18.820.