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.”
On October 22 and 23, 11 rowers with Rockford ties competed in Boston’s prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta. “Head” races are three miles long and boats are started sequentially 12 seconds apart and race against the clock. Extremely demanding, the Head of the Charles course twists and turns with the river’s bends and includes seven narrow bridges. Boats are not separated in lanes, so the action often resembles a NASCAR race, including near collisions. Rick Anderson, 2010 winner in the Veterans Singles category, again rowed to first place, leading 51 racers down the course. Anderson has a long history of rowing competitively. He was a founding officer of the Grand Rapids Rowing Club and in 1996 started the Rockford High School crew team, serving as head coach for 13 years. Five Rockford graduates competed at the race. Ross Anderson, representing Philadelphia’s elite Penn AC, was eighth in the Championship Single against a field of 32 that included world champion Mahe Drysdale from New Zealand. On scholarship at the University of Central Florida, Chelsey Lauzon was part of the UCF Championship Eight, finishing 24th out of 37. In Notre Dame’s Club Four was another scholarship rower, Olivia Kacsits, and they placed 36th out of 45. Grand Valley State University’s men’s Club Four with junior Tucker Anderson and freshman Austin Burris did very well, placing 15th out of 50. Three current Rockford rowing team members made the trip to Boston to gain experience. Bryce VanderBerg competed in the Club Singles, finishing 52nd out of 64. Tristan VanForsen and Kevin Clinthorne were 35th out of 40 in the Youth Doubles. Former Russian professional rower Michael Raisky, now on Rockford’s masters’ squad with Rick Anderson, was sixth out of 37 in the Senior Masters Doubles event, and his wife Carol was fifth in a field of 19 Masters Doubles.
Congratulations to the Rockford Rams football team on receiving second place in the Academic All State Division I standings. The top four teams in each division recently received plaques honoring their achievements. The top four finishers for Division I were Holland West Ottawa with a 3.976 grade-point average, Rockford with a 3.924, Saline with a 3.915, and Grand Haven with a 3.89.