by MARY CLINTHORNE
“Go Rams!” echoed through the Harsha Lake valley east of Cincinnati on Saturday and Sunday, Mother’s Day weekend, as Rockford rowed to first place in the men’s division of the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championship (MSRC). The Rams were followed in second and third place by Toledo Central Catholic and Cleveland St. Ignatius, respectively. While there were no fancy Mother’s Day brunches, the Rockford moms and dads who served the rowers in the food tent throughout the regatta were thrilled with the victory. The general feeling was, “They rocked!” referring to the amazing performances by all of the rowers.
The Rockford women rowers earned third-place honors at this regional championship. First place in the women’s division was won by New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.), and second place was taken by Upper Arlington (Columbus).
In the men’s and women’s combined points, Rockford came in second place behind New Trier.
The warm sunny day of time-trials and semifinal races on Saturday qualified 11 Rockford boats for Sunday’s final races. Of those, 10 earned medals (seven gold, two silver, and one bronze).
Head Coach Timothy Jacobs commented, “As a coach, watching our boats from shore racing in the grand finals is awesome, but to have ten of the eleven boats medal with the majority being first-place finishes is priceless.”
Forty-five schools from six states competed in the MSRC this year.
Rockford’s first-place winning boats were the Men’s Lightweight 4+ winning by 2.27 seconds over Ann Arbor Pioneer (K. Clinthorne, Tristan VanFossen, I. Blenman, D. Itter, coxswain L. Conner); Men’s Lightweight 8+ beating second-place Upper Arlington by six seconds (Clinthorne, VanFossen, T. Maple, J. Nemeth, M. Hendershott, S. Ginebaugh, Blenman, Itter, coxswain Conner); Men’s Varsity 4+ overcoming a tight race to win against Ignatius Chicago by 0.58 seconds (Bryce VanderBerg, A. Carley, C. Fase, M. Hendershott, coxswain R. Featherston); Men’s Varsity 2 besting second-place Upper Arlington by more than 11 seconds (VanderBerg, Carley); Men’s Novice 8+ winning by more than seven seconds over second-place New Trier (M. Crimp, E. Sawicki, J. Ullrey, A. LaBadie, N. Guerra, R. O’Grady, A. Houn, A. Karsten, coxswain J. Villearreal); Women’s Novice 4+ triumphing over second-place Upper Arlington by nine seconds (M. Fix, M. Plekes, H. Twardy, M. Marvin, coxswain I. Waite); and Women’s Junior 4+ defeating second-place Ignatius Chicago by eight seconds (A. Andrews, A. Dew, T. Powers, L. Pratt, coxswain Bri VanderBerg).
Second-place finishes for Rockford were the Women’s Freshman 8+ (S. VanFossen, Plekes, V. Kacsits, A. Kely, C. Wadlow, Marvin, Fix, T. Todd, coxswain S. Doletsky); and Men’s Freshman 8+ (Crimp, Sawicki, Ullrey, LaBadie, Z. Lecceadone, O’Grady, Houn, Karsten, coxswain Villarreal).
The Women’s Varsity 4+ earned the bronze medal (K. Bilardello, K. Korson, K. Fraser, A. Galloway, coxswain R. DeKorne), coming in 1.8 seconds behind second-place Chicago Ignatius.
Coach Jacobs summed up the efforts of the Rams, “The rowers have worked to exhaustion preparing for the Midwest Championships, and the results attest to their dedication to training. As coaching staff we are very proud of our team’s accomplishments.”
Many of the winning boats will compete in the National Championship Regatta in Camden, New Jersey over the Memorial Day weekend. In addition, Rockford will be competing in the State Rowing Championship this weekend, Saturday May 19, at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. Rockford won the state championship last year and hopes to do very well again this year.