Rockford crew displays true toughness in Wi-Hi Regatta

Rockford’s men’s novice four team of (l–r) Coach Eric Bennett, Austin Togger, Bryce Vandenberg, Matt Vermeer, Nate Roobol, Coach Jack DeLine and (front) coxswain Margaret Saelens take second place at the Wi-Hi Regatta.

Rockford’s men’s novice four team of (l–r) Coach Eric Bennett, Austin Togger, Bryce Vandenberg, Matt Vermeer, Nate Roobol, Coach Jack DeLine and (front) coxswain Margaret Saelens take second place at the Wi-Hi Regatta.


Rowing teams from 20 schools in Michigan, Canada and Illinois converged at Wyandotte early Saturday morning, May 2, for the Wi-Hi Regatta. Weather conditions were less than ideal as high winds created whitecaps along the river and pushed waves up over the riggers as rowers attempted to race the course. Spectators watched from the shoreline as two competitors’ boats were overcome by the height of the waves-the rowers were quickly rescued by safety patrol. The women’s senior four boat (Schmutz, Kuhn, Peck, Kasper, Denike) continued to row, clearly in the lead throughout the race, but rapidly filling water within their boat dashed hopes for a first-place finish in the heat. Delays were called several times as race officials tried to better determine if the regatta could be completed within the safety guidelines of the U.S. Rowing organization. Eventually, the winds slowed, and rowers were called to the water once again to compete.

The Ram rowing team took the challenge to heart and refused to let the weather impact them, placing 19 boats in the finals. When asked how Rockford’s team could do so well when other schools struggled to stay on course, men’s coach Greg Hobart stated, “Our rowers are used to these adverse conditions and row in them on a regular basis. They have practiced hard and are prepared.”

Rockford will now advance to the Michigan High School Scholastic Regional Regatta in Cincinnati on May 9-10. This regatta includes schools from a seven-state region and will provide the Rams with intense competition as they compete against the best rowing teams from the Midwest.

            Coming on strong with first-place finishes were:

  • women’s novice eight:  Amy Fedeson, Julia Fraser, Lena Klienoder, Emma Korson, Kendall McConnohie, Kendra Bilardello, Kate Fraser, Kara Korson, coxswain Becca DeKorne;
  • women’s novice lightweight four:  Kate Fugate, Kelli Borgeld, Andrea Galloway, Emily Prus, coxswain Sam Teft.

            Silver medal winners were:

  •  women’s senior eight: Shannon Schmutz, Christine Kasper, Darcy Peck, Michelle Kuhn, Alicia Dickenson, Maddie Anderson, Marie Albano, Olivia Neilsen, coxswain Jennifer Denike;
  • women’s novice lightweight four:  Lauren Madsen, Laura Gleghorn, Carly Johnson, Lauren Rohde, coxswain Lauren Fey;
  • women’s novice four:  K. Korson, Bilardello, Kleinoder, Fedeson, coxswain Shelby Hodges;
  • men’s novice four:  Matt Vermeer, Bryce Vandenberg, Austin Togger, Nate Roobol, coxswain Margaret Saelens.

            Bronze medal winners were:

  • men’s senior four:  Austin Burris, Landon Burris, TJ Jacobs, Levi Pulver, coxswain Andrew Saelens;
  • women’s lightweight four:  Jane Vandervelde, Richelle Huizinga, Katina Goad, Molly Guthrie, coxswain Dani Teft;
  • women’s lightweight eight:  Raechel Wrona, Clara Harding, Stephani Sawicki, Chris Scofield, Guthrie, Huizinga, Vandervelde, Goad, coxswain Teft.

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