by MARY CLINTHORNE
Six Rockford boats competed in the Scholastic Rowing Association of America National Championship last Friday and Saturday, May 25-26, in Camden, N.J. The championship drew rowers from 177 schools, 16 states, and two countries.
Friday’s preliminary races advanced the Women’s Freshman 8+, Men’s Freshman 8+, Women’s Junior 4+, Women’s Varsity 4+, and Men’s Varsity 4+. The heartbreaker of the day was when the Men’s Lightweight 8+ missed qualifying for the semifinals by less than one-half of a second after a seat malfunction.
The semifinal races on Saturday morning saw the Men’s Freshman 8+ and the Men’s Varsity 4+ advancing to the finals Saturday afternoon.
A fourth-in-the-nation finish was earned by the Men’s Freshman 8+ (A. Karsten, A. Houn, R. O’Grady, Z. Lecceadone, A. LaBadie, J. Ullrey, E. Sawicki, M. Crimp, and coxswain J. Villarreal). The medals in that race went to first-place Winter Park (Fla.), second-place St. Joseph Preparatory (Philadelphia), and third-place Central Catholic (Pittsburgh).
The Men’s Varsity 4+ (M. Hendershott, C. Fase, A. Carley, B. VanderBerg, and coxswain R. Featherston) also came in fourth, finishing behind first-place Saratoga (N.Y.), second-place Episcopal Academy (Newtown Square, Pa.), and third-place Monsignor Bonner Rowing (Drexel Hill, Pa.).
“What an amazing season!” exclaimed Head Coach Timothy Jacobs, “Topping off the year with Rockford crew taking six boats to the nationals, then qualifying five boats to the semifinals, and ending with two boats in the grand finals. And then, having both boats take an amazing fourth-place finish in the nation. It is very rewarding as a coaching staff to continue to watch your team get better as the season progresses. Some of this can be attributed to good coaching, but ultimately it is the hard work and dedication of the rowers.”