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Women's Novice 8 (Gold)

Tiger novices, who had their last chance this weekend to race in the Novice category, made the best of that opportunity, bringing home two Gold and one Silver medal from the 7th annual American Heritage River Fall Classic in Wyandotte, Michigan. Gold was won by the Women's Jr. Novice Eight (Valerie Kopyta, Ellie Duursma, Nicole Rotunno, Maureen Crammond, Jenni Miller, Sarah Sharpnack, Christina Hunkele, Madison Treser, Jess Mazur (cox)), finishing 1st out of 6, and the Men's Jr Novice 4 (Andre Ficerai, Jake Lennon, Sean Kurtz, John Rectenwald, coxed by Jess Mazur), 1st out of 10 boats. Adding to the two Gold medals was one Silver, won by the Women's Jr Novice 4 (Ellie Duursma, Sarah Sharpnack, Maureen Crammond, Madison Treser, coxed, again by Jess Mazur), which finished 2nd out of 9, missing Gold by 8 seconds.

Silver for Mixed Eight

Head Coach Gary Schermer was very pleased with the novices' performances, naming in particular Eric McQuiston, who was called upon to substitute for his brother David in the Men's Jr Four and performed admirably, even after 16,000 meters of rowing, for a grand total of 24,000 meters. "An ironman performance", noted Schermer, who also praised Nicole Rotunno. Nicole, who normally can be seen in the coxswain seat, trained for four days and grabbed an oar to help the Women's Novice Eight win Gold.

Once again, the team was unable to practice the day before, as 25 mile an hour winds made for stormy conditions, ruling out any chance of heading out on the water. The weather turned around quickly on Sunday, giving rise to a somewhat chilly but otherwise calm day of racing that went for the most part flawlessly. Sunday morning started with the Mixed Eight event, where our "A" boat (Jess Pegher, Lauren Vespoli, Merel Duursma, Kim Gilmour, Cole Lennon, Mike Durbiano, Kurt Schoffstall, David McQuiston, coxed by Meghan Wilson), took Second Place (out of 13), finishing just 7 seconds behind Toledo Rowing Club. In that same race, our "B" boat of Liz Craig, Christine Frazier, Michelle Benson, Lauren Larocca, Evan Solic, Eric McQuiston, Sean Kurtz, Billy Brant, Nicole Rotunno(cox) took 8th place.

Also early in the morning, Steven Genise and Zach Petronic, rowing in a Pair, found themselves among tough competition in this technically very challenging event, which was open (to all age categories) to boot. The Tiger duo finished 8th out of 9th, in a very respectable time of just 1 second over 20 minutes.

Our remaining two medals came in the Women's Open Doubles event, where Christine Frazier and Christina Hunkele finished 2nd out of 3, good for Silver. Valerie Kopyta and Jenni Miller, battling equipment problems, were rewarded with Bronze for their efforts.

In the Women's Eight, the Tiger ladies (Nicole Rotunno coxing Liz Craig, Meghan Wilson, Michelle Benson, Lauren Larocca, Merel Duursma, Lauren Vespoli, Jess Pegher, Kim Gilmour) faced strong competition from local "powerhouses" Ann Arbor Pioneer and Ann Arbor Huron, finishing fourth (out of 4).

In other races, the Men's Open Lightweight crew of Andre Ficerai, Jake Lennon, Eric McQuiston and John Rectenwald (Meghan Wilson coxing) finished 7th out of 9. (Recall that almost the same lineup would later take Gold in the Novice 4 category.) In the Men's Jr. 4, our A boat (Zach Petronic, Mike Durbiano, Kurt Schoffstall, David McQuiston, Jess Mazur(cox)) and our B crew (Evan Solic, Billy Brant, Cole Lennon, Steven Genise (Liz Craig coxing)) finished 9th and 12th out of 18, respectively.

With 6 medals, the Tigers closed out the Fall rowing season on very positive note, and can look forward to some great competition in the spring. NA rowers will be tuning up over the winter, with the North Allegheny Indoor Erg Race opening the spring season in March of 2010.

Links: Complete Results, Pictures

(Thanks to Ron Duursma and NA Rowing for the information in this report!)

For more information on NA Rowing, go to:  www.narowing.org

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Three strokes into his Men's Four race, NA rower John Rectenwald looked down at his shoes and came to the realization that they were no longer attached to the boat; the track had separated from the bottom of the boat, making the normal rowing motion all but impossible. No matter though; coxswain Jessica Mazur quickly took matters into her own hands, keeping John's feet pinned down for the remainder of the 2.5 mile, 18 minute race down the Schuylkill river. What started out as an almost certain last place turned into a remarkable 16th out 23 for the Men's Four, rounded out by Sean Kurtz, Jake Lennon and Andre Ficerai.

Coach Gary Schermer was rightly proud of his team. 'Although NARA only came home with four first place cups, there were a host of intangible successes which occurred', Schermer noted, explaining that 'in particular, the manner in which a number of team members faced adverse conditions because of equipment or rowing mishaps and strove to overcome those obstacles was commendable.' He then concluded by saying 'In the long run, it is persistence and determination which defines the winner in rowing and in life!'

Earlier, Abi Gunn had shown just that type of resilience after a somewhat unfortunate finish in her first ever singles race. Together with Jen Milkey, Abi finished 8th out of 18 in the Women's HS doubles event. In the same race, Christine Frazier and Valerie Kopyta saw their boat flip shortly after launching, but were able to laugh it off afterwards, despite having to go the distance in wet clothes.

No medals were awarded in this race. Rather, first place rowers were presented with stylish Navy Day Regatta "First Place" ceramic mugs (resembling beer steins). The Tigers secured one set of mugs, albeit in a somewhat unglamorous manner. The Men's Open 4x event drew just two entries, both from North Allegheny Rowing. Perhaps our Men's Quad's fearsome reputation scared off the competition! Regardless, first and second place were assured, and our (semi-) Senior Quad (David McQuiston, Zach Petronic, Steven Genise, Mike Durbiano) handily beat out their junior brethren (Billy Brant, Cole Lennon, Eric McQuiston, Evan Solic). The same two boats competed in the High School Quad event, where the McQuiston crew finished 4th out of 21, and the Brant crew finished in 10th place.

In the Women's High School Quad event, the Sr. crew of Kim Gilmour, Lauren Vespoli, Merel Duursma, and Meghan Wilson finished 4th out of 17, while Lauren Larocca, Madison Treser, Michelle Benson and Liz Craig were 12th (mostly due to a 40 second penalty which knocked them down from what would have been 6th place). Penalties also dogged the Women's Four (Christina Hunkele, Sarah Sharpnack, Ellie Duursma, Jenny Miller, coxed by Nicole Rotunno), dropping them from 15th to 17 place (out of 24).

Another bright spot was the Women's Open Doubles event, where Madison Treser and Maureen Crammond finished strongly, taking 5th place out of 9.

Here are the Official Results. Please check back soon for pictures!

The fall rowing season will conclude with the American Heritage River Fall Classic, held Nov 1st at the beautiful Wyandotte Boat Club in Wyandotte, Michigan.

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For the second year in a row, the Head of the Ohio ended prematurely due to adverse weather conditions. While last year thunderstorms made afternoon rowing impossible, this year it was the rather abrupt onset of heavy winds that put an early end to what started out as a beautiful day of racing. As a result, the final 23 of 63 races were canceled, sending many rowers home without having had a chance to test their skills.

Soon after the lunch break, trouble began when two men's Eight boats, one from Duquesne and one from Westerville, Ohio, were swamped near the start at Washington's Landing. River Rescue and the US Coast Guard brought all rowers to safety and the race continued, but was finally halted when a third boat, from Villanova, PA, suffered the same fate. Luckily, no one was hurted or needed medical attention.

For NA, the day began with the Women's Varsity 8 (Lauren Larocca, Jessica Pegher, Abi Gunn, Merel Duursma, Meghan Wilson, Michelle Benson, Jen Milkey, Liz Craig, Nicole Rotunno(cox)), which finished 10th out of 17th. Next up was the Men's Sr. Quad (Zac Petronic, Kurt Schoffstall, Mike Durbiano, David McQuiston), which scored our first medal of the day, taking Gold by finishing 1st out 5. A second NA quad (Steven Genise, Billy Brant, Cole Lennon, Evan Solic) took 5th place in the same race.

Two Women's doubles entered the High School 2x race. Kim Gilmour and Lauren Vespoli took 8th out of 18, but were second among High School entries earning them our second medal of the day, a silver.  Madison Treser and Sarah Sharpnack finished 15th.

Still under sunny skies, our Men's Novice 4 (Andre Ficerai, Sean Kurtz, Jake Lennon, John Rectenwald, Jessica Mazur (cox)) posted an excellent performance, finishing 5th out of 25.

After lunch, shortly before the race was canceled, our Men's 8 (David McQuiston, Zac Petronic, Steven Genise, Kurt Schoffstall, Mike Durbiano, Cole Lennon, Billy Brant, Evan Solic, coxed by Nicole Rotunno) edged out Three Rivers Rowing Association, finishing 8th out of 16th.

All eyes were set for the Women's Quad race (traditionally a strong event for NA), where we had 3 boats entered. Unfortunately, after rowing the 2.8 miles to the start, all 3 boats were stopped from racing and had to slowly work their way back to the start. Our last two boats of the day (Women's Novice 4 and Men's Lightweight 4) never even made it off the launching dock.

A final special mention goes to two parents of former NA rowers. Jim Hudson and Rich Marcus participated in the Men's Masters 2x event under the NARA name, turning in a very respectable performance.

NA Rowers will barely get a chance to catch their collective breaths, as the team heads out the upcoming weekend for the 24th annual Navy Day Regatta, held Oct 10th on the familiar Schuylkill river in Philadelphia.

The fall rowing season concludes as usual with the American Heritage River Fall Classic, held Nov 1st at the beautiful Wyandotte Boat Club in Wyandotte, Michigan.

Official results.

 (Thanks to Ron Duursma for making this information available.  For more info on NA Rowing, go to: www.narowing.org )



Any questions or comments should be directed to Athletic Director Bob Bozzuto at:  bbozzuto@northallegheny.org


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