Mount crew sweeps the eights events at City Championships

by Tom Utescher
Posted 5/10/23

Mount St. Joseph Academy enters a few four-oared sweep boats in just about every regatta, but everyone knows the school's eights are the engine of the crew program.

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Mount crew sweeps the eights events at City Championships


Mount St. Joseph Academy enters a few four-oared sweep boats in just about every regatta, but everyone knows the school's eights are the engine of the crew program.

The Magic's commitment to the long ships was on full display at the Philadelphia City Championships last weekend, when all five eights entered by the Mount won gold medals. In a sport where performances are recorded in hundredths of seconds, the MSJ freshman eight, novice eight, JV eight, second varsity eight, and varsity eight had a combined margin of victory of more than a full minute in the final round.

Their paths to victory varied somewhat, mainly due to the differing number of boats competing in each event.

Due to the low number of entries in their categories, the Magic's freshman four (Abby McCabe - cox, Maddie Kelly - stroke, Madison McErlean, Alex Kovatch, Cassidy Alpaugh) and second eight (Angelina Baker - cox, Anna Ledwith - stroke, Maya McCottry, Kari Prosperi, Nina Rowello, Alexa Kennedy, Ellie Fazio, Megan Krumenacker, Aoife Meacle) both went straight into the final round without any preliminary competition.

The first Mount boat to race in Saturday's trials was the freshman eight (Kayliegh Costello - cox, Michaela Ianieri - stroke, Layla Seward, Ella Kurek, Ava Smith, Bridget Horgan, Maddie Dudley, Ally Truitt, Marianna Rambo), which put up the best time in its class by some five-and-a-half seconds.

The novice eight left all of its rivals far back in its wake. With a line-up featuring Rachel Rego (cox), Ynez Doyle (stroke), Shaylie Gura, Olivia Duffy, Addy Smith, Eva Getty, Savana Paris, Stella Bradfield, and Addi Ross, they recorded a time 18 seconds faster than the runner-up in trials.

The was another big gap between first and second in the JV eight time trials. Placing first by nine seconds were the Magic's Sarah Mark (cox), Molly Chipman (stroke), Maddy Wynn, Michaela Kowalski, Julia Fede, Alexia Levine, Norah McGlynn, Anna Fedders, and Molly Maher.

Ranking eighth in a large field in trials, the Magic's varsity four (Kylie Reichert (cox), Gabrielle Basiura (stroke), Emily Feilke, Maddie Kristel, Maggie Mullaney) advanced to a semifinal stage on Sunday morning. That's where their run ended, as they finished fifth in the first semi and only the top three from each race advanced.

The varsity eight event, usually well-populated, included a total field of just eight boats this year, so the top six in Saturday's time trials advanced to the finals. On the basis of some regular-season results on the Schuylkill, the Mount (Chloe Van de Meulebroecke - cox, Vanessa Ksiazek - stroke, Kathryn Sponseller, Caroline Johnson, Grace Hartzell, Clara Pagano, Alexa Konowal, Kelly Cleary, Zoe Truitt) was seeded third in the starting order, but the Magic wound up posting the best time. They were four seconds faster than the next crew, Holy Spirit, which had gone off first.

As the finals got underway on Sunday morning, the freshman four wound up just out of the running for a medal, coming in fourth.

About half an hour later the first of the eights went into action, the freshman boat. The Magic were able to move ahead by open water, and then some, against Montclair (N.J.) High School in an adjacent lane. The MSJ ninth-graders claimed the gold medal in five minutes, 28.81 seconds, while the Garden State group earned silver in 5:41.50.

The novice eight, which includes some strong sophomores who are first-year rowers, has been overpowering rivals for much of the 2023 season. Here, they won the gold medal by 16 seconds over the silver medalists from Radnor High School.

Opposing crews continued to see the backs of the Magic coxswains, with the JV eight logging a 14-second victory over number two Unionville High School, and with the seasoned veterans in the second eight striking gold by coming in 20 seconds ahead of Atlantic City High School.

Racing in different flights than the Mount varsity eight in the last of the Manny Flick regattas, Holy Spirit and Radnor had put up slightly faster times than the Magic, so the Mounties' last race at Cities was not going to be a cakewalk.

Rivals remained close to the Magic into the middle 500 meters of the race, then the Mounties began to pick up seat after seat on the opposition. They had open water as they came alongside Peter's Island, and maintained it until they snagged the gold medal in a time of 5:22.41. Spirit was second in 5:26.80, and the bronze medal went to the entry from the relatively new Gwynedd Mercy Academy program (5:31.10).

As always, many seniors in the Mount program have been recruited to row at the collegiate level. So far, this year's list includes Basiura (Coastal Carolina), Cleary (George Washington), Hartzell (Notre Dame), Kennedy (La Salle), Konowal (University of Central Florida) Meacle (Ohio State), Rowello (Loyola Marymount), and Van de Meulebroecke (Syracuse).