In a regatta dominated entirely by Ann Arbor Pioneer over the past several years, Rockford’s crew team pulled out all the stops to narrowly claim a first-place finish, just one point ahead of rival Ann Arbor Pioneer and two points ahead of another strong East Michigan team, Ann Arbor Huron. East Michigan teams have dominated this sport for many years, primarily due to the fact that they have established programs going back 20 years or more. Rockford crew is a relatively young sport, only claiming varsity status within the past eight years. The Rockford women’s team captured the first-place trophy, with the men’s additional points helping to catapult the Rams to first place overall.
Over 700 competitors converged on Riverside Park in Grand Rapids, coming from 14 teams located in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Rockford crew, 92 members strong, had the largest showing among the eight area teams located in West Michigan.
“It helps to have that many bodies,” stated Rockford Coach Tim Jacobs. “They have trained hard and they have transferred that work ethic to the water.”
Of the more than 20 boats entered by Rockford, 16 boats made it past the heats and into the finals. There, Rockford quickly rose to the challenge and captured four first-, four second-, and three third-place finishes.
Bringing home the gold for Rockford were:
- women’s novice eight: Amy Fedeson, Kendra Bilardella, Julia Fraser, Kate Fraser, Lena Kleinoeder, Kara Korson, Sarah Lemanski, Kendall McConnohie, and coxswain Becca DeKorne
- men’s junior four: Austin Burris, TJ Jacobs, Zach Haugen, Zach Troyer, and coxswain Andrew Saelens
- women’s lightweight eight: Raechel Wrona, Clara Harding, Shelby Jacobs, Chris Scoffield, Richelle Huizina, Molly Guthrie, Jane Vandervelde, Katina Goad, and coxswain Dani Teft
- women’s lightweight four: Wrona, Harding, Jacobs, Scoffield, and coxswain Lauren Fey
Capturing second place for Rockford were:
- women’s junior eight: Camille Pulver, Angelina Lipzinski, Erin Fedeson, Megan Korson, Kaitlin Champion, Lemanski, Becca Markham, Maddie Anderson, and coxswain Danielle Frick
- women’s senior four: Olivia Kacsits, Christine Kasper, Darcy Peck, Michelle Kuhn, and coxswain Jennifer Denike
- women’s senior eight dash: Olivia Nielsen, Peck, Marie Albano, Alicia Dickinson, Kasper, Kacsits, Kuhn, Shannon Schmutz, and coxswain Denike
- men’s senior eight dash: Burris, Haugen, Jacobs, Nate Harrison, Ian Sims, Jeff Gleghorn, James Galloway, Troyer, and coxswain Saelens
Claiming third place for Rockford were:
- women’s senior eight: Schmutz, Kuhn, Kacsits, Kasper, Dickinson, Albano, Peck, Nielsen, and coxswain Denike
- men’s senior eight: Troyer, Haugen, Gleghorn, Sims, Harrison, Galloway, Jacobs, Burris, and coxswain Saelens
- men’s double: Levi Pulver and Landon Burris
The victorious crew teams are coached by Ashley Breinling (women’s novice), Mike Altuma (women’s jr. and sr.), Brigette Mast (women’s lightweight), and Greg Hobart and Tim Vallier (men’s jr. and sr.).
The Rams will compete this Saturday, April 25, at the Culver Regatta, located at Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana.