By Mary Clinthorne
Rockford rowers showed their strength again as they battled for, and won for the third year in a row, the Michigan high school rowing championship on Saturday. The Scholastic Rowing Association of Michigan 2013 Championship Regatta brought seventeen high school teams (ten from southeast Michigan and the rest from the Grand Rapids area) to Riverside Park for a beautiful day of rowing on the Grand River.
The combined team championship was earned by Rockford with 49 points over second place Ann Arbor Pioneer’s 29.5 team points.
The Rockford women’s team took the women’s championship ahead of second place Ann Arbor Pioneer. Head Coach Tim Vallier noted that the women’s team is relatively young, with tremendous potential in their future. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s men’s team beat out the Rockford men to win first place by one point, with 20 points to Rockford’s 19 points. Coach Vallier commented that “It was all around a great day of racing. Good weather, a well-organized regatta, and a lot of competition. All of the rowers did well, and everyone helped to contribute to our success.”
After a morning of preliminary races, Rockford advanced every boat to the afternoon finals. The fans on the shoreline loudly cheered on the Rockford boats as many raced to medal finishes. In the women’s division first place medals were earned by the Junior 8+ (S. Doletzky – coxswain, M. Fix, T. Powers, F. Fix, T. Todd, O. Bigelow, A. Erickson, S. Benham, and M. Marvin), the Varsity 4+ (B. VanderBerg – coxswain, A. Andrews, A. Dew, L. Marvin, and L. Pratt), the Junior 4+ (C. Perini – coxswain, M. Plekes, T. Kascits, E. Emerick, and A. Erickson), and the Varsity 8+ (B. VanderBerg – coxswain, M. Plekes, A. Andrews, A. Dew, T. Kascits, E. Emerick, L. Pratt, T. Powers, and M. Fix). Second place medals were won by women in the Lightweight 4+ (H. Twardy, K. LaBadie, L. Dunham, S. Wasson, and B. Dady), and the Varsity 2- (T. Kascits and T. Huerta).
In the men’s division, gold medals were won by the Varsity 4+ (L. Conner – coxswain, A. Carley, A. LaBadie, J. Tarrants, and C. Fase), and the Lightweight 8+ (R. Featherston – coxswain, K. Clinthorne, T. VanFossen, T. Maple, R. O’Grady, N. Soloman, A. Soloman, J. Nemeth, and E. Sawicki). Silver medals were awarded to the rowers competing in the Varsity 2- (R. Ullrey and R. Dickinson). Bronze medals were earned by the Junior 8+ (R. Featherston – coxswain, J. Ullrey, R. O’Grady, J. Malone, E.J. VanderVelde, M. Hendershott, E. Sawicki, A. Soloman, and N. Soloman) and the Varsity 8+ (L. Conner – coxswain, K. Clinthorne, T. VanFossen, A. Carley, A. LaBadie, J. Tarrants, C. Fase, T. Maple, and J. Nemeth).
“You rowers fought hard and you represented Rockford well,” stated Rockford Women’s Coach Rob Johnson as he praised the entire team during the awards ceremony. Coach Vallier echoed those comments, noting that everyone gave their best performance.
Rowing is a sport that requires a tremendous amount of teamwork, discipline, and respect for other teams, in every step of every regatta, beginning with getting boats off of the trailers, to carrying the boats and oars down to the water for a race, to the actual race on the water, to getting the boats and oars off the water at the finish, and finally at the end of the day, carefully and securely loading the boats back onto the trailer for transport back to the boathouse. Rockford’s rowers demonstrate teamwork and the joy of rowing at every regatta.
Rockford’s final high school regatta of this season will be at the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Championship in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, May 31 through June 2nd. Online viewing will be available via three webcams at www.cssra.ca/#/web-cams/4565621301 during the races.