City Champs Day Two - JV and varsity rowers medal

by Tom Utescher
Posted 5/4/21

In last weekend's City Championships in crew, rowers from area schools were divided in terms of age and experience. The freshman and novices did all of their racing on Saturday (see separate …

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City Champs Day Two - JV and varsity rowers medal


In last weekend's City Championships in crew, rowers from area schools were divided in terms of age and experience. The freshman and novices did all of their racing on Saturday (see separate article), while the JV and varsity crews took the stage last Sunday.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy had a banner day with its JV quads, as both the boys and the girls won gold medals. In addition, the Blue Devils' boys' lightweight quad took silver in its final on Sunday afternoon. Germantown Friends also came away with two golds and a silver. The girls won the lightweight double and varsity double, while another Tigers tandem, the boys' lightweight double, secured a silver medal.

Mount St. Joseph Academy entered a total of six boats in five categories, and the result was three gold medals and two silvers. The JV eight, lightweight four, and varsity eight were victorious, and coming in second were the JV four and one of the two second eights raced by the Magic.

The varsity vessel was staffed by Ella Valencia (cox), Maggie Newell (stroke), Julia Geib, Hannah Lemanowicz, Cate Van Stone, Sarah Powell, Alexa Konowal, Kelly Cleary, and Sydney McKernan.

Valencia and Newell, who sit face-to-face in the boat as coxswain and stroke, reflected upon how important it was to race this spring, given the cancellation of the 2020 campaign due to the response to COVID-19.

"It made us want it more," said Newell, who first made the V-8 as a sophomore and will continue to row at Notre Dame. "This is our first medal since we've been able to race again, so it's sort of like we've been working for this for two years."

Valencia, who is heading for the University of Pennsylvania, thought about the drydocked crew class of 2020, and said, "I'm just really happy we were able to have our senior season. It's really sentimental, because we've been together since freshman year."

In most categories, last Sunday's City Championships schedule began with morning time trials, in which the boats were released from the starting line one-by-one and then ranked according to their times. The six fastest in each event would proceed to the finals in the afternoon.

Half-a-dozen boats from various area schools were able to forego a time trial and move directly into the finals, since there were no more than six entries in their particular events. Two lightweight doubles from Germantown Friends and two second eights from the Mount went straight through, as did the JV eight from the Mount and the boys' lightweight quad from Springside Chestnut Hill.

Two area boats appearing in the first time trial on Sunday morning made it through to the finals; in the girls' JV single Isabella Salvi of Penn Charter ranked fourth and Ella Ward of SCH was sixth. Two GFS rowers qualified in the boys' JV single, with Aden Solomon and Aidan Cusack posting the third and fifth-best times in the trials, respectively.

The JV Four from the Mount (Chloe Van de Meulebroecke - cox, Sarah Burns (stroke), Nina Rowello, Brianna Montgomery, Aoife Meacle) moved ahead with ease, winning its time trial by eight seconds over number two Montclair (N.J.) High School.

Another girls' boat that's been successful all spring, the SCH JV quad (Gabriela Leon-Palfrey, Samantha Simon, Ashley Keough, Kaia McTigue) won its time trial by two seconds over Ridgewood (N.J.) High School, with the third-fastest crew another 10 seconds behind. The boys' JV quad for the Blue Devils (Jack Stephenson, Andrew Topping, Jude Halfpenny, Samuel Halfpenny) also attained the finals fairly easily, with their second-place time in the trials less than one second behind number one Seton Hall Prep.

After Haverford School won the time trials in the boys' lightweight double by six seconds, the times of the next four boats were clumped close together. GFS, with Rich Soong and Otis Harrison, was the leader of this pack, with the second-best number.

In the girls' lightweight four, the two quickest boats were clearly the Mount and Merion Mercy Academy. The Magic crew (Giovanna Consiglio - cox, Evelyn McGreevey - stroke, Christina Kelly, Maeve Carmody, Sonia Marhefka) bested the Golden Bears by three seconds, who were 13 ticks ahead of the number three crew in the trials.

It wasn't a sure thing for Springside Chestnut Hill's girls' varsity single, but still Lenny Lorenz qualified for afternoon racing, netting the sixth time in the event.

Two area boats qualified in the girls' varsity double, Germantown Friends (Amelia Sanchirico, Sophia Ortega) in second, and Springside (Elizabeth Castellanos, Jocelyn Freed) in fifth. The last two qualifying spots in the boys' varsity double final were secured by fifth-place GA (Andreas Moeller, Alex Walkush) and number six GFS (Turner Burns, Nathan Fireman)

The varsity quads tend to be the flagships of the sculling school fleets in the area, but none reached the finals, with the girls of SCH and the boys of Penn Charter missing out by one spot with seventh-place showings.

The headliners for sweep rowing programs are the varsity eights, and the Mount V-8 made a statement in the time trials of this competitive category by winning the time trials by 10 seconds. Next in line was Moorestown (N.J.) High School.

Before long, the finals were getting underway. For the first half-hour, medals were elusive for area schools. In the girls' JV single, Penn Charter placed fifth and SCH sixth. Next up was the boy's race that included two solo GFS performers; Cusack finished fourth, and Solomon came in fifth.

Mount St. Joseph's JV four had won its time trial ahead of New Jersey's Montclair, but in the finals the Garden State crew flipped the script, winning the gold medal about four seconds ahead of the Magic. Everyone else lagged; third-place Moorestown was around 15 seconds behind MSJ.

Next up, Springside Chestnut Hill pulled off its sweep in the JV quads. As in the time trials, Ridgewood challenged the girls' boat, but to no avail, as the Devils won by almost exactly three seconds. The boys won by four-and-a-half seconds over Seton Hall, the crew that had edged them in the time trials. In the girls' race the top two boats were well ahead of the field, but in the boys' final bronze medalist Haverford trailed Seton Hall by only two seconds.

Three area boats that had gone straight into the finals were up next. The Mount JV Eight (Annmarie Wallis - cox, Grace McDonough - stroke, Caitlin O'Reilly, Margaret Horgan, Leah Manzo-McCottry, Francesca Fede, Kate Kelly, Kathryn Sponseller, Grace Hartzell) wanted to demonstrate that it could take on more boats than just the five that signed up for their Cities event - the Magic cranked out a 22-second win over runner-up Unionville High School.

Two lightweight doubles from Germantown Friends followed. Maria Ramos and Sarah Levy rowed with authority and topped Bonner/Prendergast by eight seconds. The other Tigers, Taylor Peterson and Norah Lee, placed fourth.

Minutes later, another medal went to a GFS double. Soong and Harrison. a seasoned combo, found themselves behind frontrunner Haverford in the middle of a four-boat cluster vying for the silver medallion in the boys' lightweight final. The Tigers prevailed to take second place, with two seconds separating second place from fifth.

As indicated by the trials results, the girls' lightweight four final came down to a two-boat battle between the Mount and Merion Mercy. The Magic came out ahead once more, this time by about four seconds, while the bronze medalist was 16 seconds behind the MMA Golden Bears.

The schedule then rolled around to the other three area boats that hadn't had to go through time trials. Coming down the middle of the course in their lightweight quad, the SCH boys (Teddy Tasman, Charles Miles, Luca Belmonte, Sam Meyer) led much of the race, but in the lane just inside of them Roman Catholic put on a successful finishing sprint. The Cahillites won and the Devils took silver, with less than a second-and-a-half separating the two.

The total number of entries in the girls' second eight neatly filled out a six-boat final. Moorestown High claimed gold about seven seconds ahead of silver medalist Mount "A" (Emilie Scibelli - cox, Izzy McCafferty - stroke, Olivia Guza, Claire Hanycz, Caroline Kyle, Cassie Koestler, Ruby French, Kaylee Dougherty, Sarah Gorovitz), and MSJ "B" placed sixth.

The varsity finals began with the girls' single, in which SCH finished sixth. With no boys' solo finalists from the area, it was on to doubles.

Germantown Friends' Sanchirico and Ortega have rowed together for some time, and they made this pay off with a victorious performance in the girls' double. The confident couple eclipsed the Lower Merion pair that had shaded them in the time trial, taking the final by six seconds. Third-place Conestoga High School was another nine seconds behind.

In the last boys' race for area schools, the varsity double, the GA twosome arrived at the line in fourth place, and the GFS finalists came in sixth. Up front, Malvern Prep edged Conestoga for the gold.

As the regatta wound down, the girls' varsity eights moved to the starting line. Due to COVID concerns, there were no stake boats to help position them, and conditions all weekend were windy.

"It was a little different," said Valencia, "but we had done them [floating starts] before."

As for the actual racing, Newell related, "We've had a lot of practices on windy days, so we can handle that."

The Mount started well in lane three, in the middle of the course, moving ahead while keeping a steady stroke rating. Inside of them, in lane two, Merion Mercy appeared to make a move a little after the halfway point in the race, and this may have cost the Golden Bears later on.

Valencia was aware of Merion, but she didn't want her rowers to be. She comes from the school of coxswains who don't want their rowers' eyes straying outside the boat.

"Yeah, I saw them," she said, "but we really get dialed in to what we're doing - stay internal. We try to stay in our own zone, and walk away."

In this prestigious event, the Mounties remained focused and won in five minutes, 36.66 seconds. Moorestown's eight wound up second (5:46.70), having slipped past bronze medalist Merion Mercy (5:49.04).

Area rowers have the coming weekend off (at least from racing), then the Stotesbury Cup Regatta will take place May 14 and 15.


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