by Tom Utescher

Taking third place for CHA in the varsity quad last Sunday were (from left) Griffin Horter, Walt Palmer, Laddy St. George, and Drew Adubato. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

As is their custom, the scullers from Chestnut Hill Academy and Springside School skipped the first installment of the annual Manny Flick races back on March 20, but in their debut last Sunday in the second edition of the series, a number of the Blue Devils and Lions showed that they’re already up to speed. Penn Charter rowers also ventured out on the Schuylkill for the first time last weekend.

In two different flights of the JV quad, Chestnut Hill placed first and second, while the Devils’ varsity quad finished third in its race later on. Springside raced two boats in the same section of the varsity quad, with one winning easily and the other taking third place.

Both the CHA and Springside squads have new head coaches this spring, but the new skipper for Springside, Bruce LaLonde, is already well known to everyone in the CHASS program. LaLonde rowed for Marietta College in Ohio, but soon came east and has now been a fixture on Boathouse Row for decades. Acknowledged for his expertise in boat maintenance and repair as well as rowing instruction, he is the longtime boatman at the University Barge Club, home to the CHA and Springside crews.

LaLonde was coaching Chestnut Hill Academy rowers as far back as the early 1980’s, and in the mid 1990’s he was instrumental in getting the Springside program underway. Most recently, he coached the novice rowers for Springside.

The new CHA mentor, David Savoie, came east across the Alleghenies much more recently. He grew up in central Ohio and rowed for Dublin High School, then went on to Denison University, where he graduated in 2008.

The following year he was the men’s freshman coach at the University of Notre Dame, and helped with recruiting for the Irish, as well.

He then decided to explore career options in Philadelphia, where his brother, Tyler, is a member of the Pennsylvania Ballet. In 2010 he was assistant crew coach for the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, in Bryn Mawr. A tri-athlete, he trains other endurance athletes and also works as a freelance photographer.

In CHA’s first race last Sunday, an all-junior crew of (stroke to bow) John Olson, Mike Calistri, Terence Jones, and Carl Delcato captured first place in their flight of the JV quad, and with a time of 4:59.98, they were the only boat in either race to make it under the five-minute mark. In the other flight, CHA (5:09.80) edged out Friends Select for second place, thanks to sophomores Seth Bakes, Mark Anspach, Jordan Wang, and Alec Horter.

CHA seniors Zach Baron and Drew Ansel finished fourth out of six twosomes in the varsity double event. Malvern Prep, year-round scullers, dominated the varsity quad races, winning both flights. CHA made a respectable showing for its first time out, coming in third of six vessels in its flight and getting edged out of the second spot in a sprint against St. Joe’s Prep, 4:40.60 to 4:41.55. Junior Drew Adubato was the stroke for the Blue Devils, who had seniors Laddy St. George, Walt Palmer, and Griffin Horter in the other three seats.

In the girls varsity quad, Springside and Conestoga were clearly the cream of the category, as the Lions and Pioneers raced in different flights and each won easily. Springside seniors Verity Walsh (three seat) and Taylor Apostolico (two) and juniors Jen Sager (stroke) and Anna Valciukas (bow) posted a time of 5:21.92 to beat runner-up Friends Select by 24 seconds in the first flight, and Conestoga won the second section in 5:17.24.

In the first flight of the event a second Springside quartet was timed in 5:50.38, good for third place. Here the stroke was junior Mozelle Rosenthal, and ahead of her were sophomore Chelsea Richardson, junior Allie Schreffler, and senior Rose Donahue.

The Lions also raced a JV quad staffed by four sophomores: Paris Baldante, Victoria Byron, Anna Rose Bedrosian, and Marguerite Zabriskie. They finished fourth in their flight, which was won by – who else – Conestoga.

Penn Charter’s rowing program was revived two years ago after laying dormant for decades, and the Quakers are still playing catch-up. At last Sunday’s regatta there were fifth-place finishes for sophomores Heidi Zisselman, Claudia Stedman, Tara Malone, and Katie O’Malley in the girls’ JV quad, and for a varsity quad containing seniors Alix Azizi and Jenna Maurer and juniors Tess Reinhold and Samantha Kapnek.

PC finished fourth in the boys’ varsity quad with a line-up featuring sophomores Spencer Grant and Kevin Kelly, and unrelated seniors Riley Brown and Alex Brown.