By Kirsten Segal and Cathy Mizgerd
In a dramatic fight to the finish for the Pioneer High School crew team, a yearlong effort – capped by several intense minutes of precise and powerful teamwork – culminated in two bronze medals at the national championship races in Canada this past weekend (June 1-3, 2018): one for the senior men’s 72 kg 8+ boat and one for the junior women’s 63 kg 8+ boat.
These crews are the first to medal for the Pioneer team in the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) races since 2010. In addition, while the team has double-medaled with a mix of 8+ and smaller boats before, this marks the first time in its history that the Pioneer crew program has ever medaled with two 8+ boats in Canada in the same year.
While junior 8+ men’s crews have medaled for Pioneer in Canada, this year’s competition was also notable for featuring the first senior men’s 8+ crew to medal for Pioneer at the CSSRA regatta.
This was the CSSRA’s 73rd annual championship regatta. It attracted 140 teams to Martindale Pond in St. Catharines, Ontario, from throughout the United States, Canada, and beyond. The teams included 2,168 athletes in 38 events, with heat rounds and semifinals leading up to a final race for each event. All racing was done in sprint format. A total of 753 boats were entered.
The two-kilometer run serves as the backdrop to many international competitions. Built expressly for racing crew boats, the pond’s elite Royal Canadian Henley course features a viewing grandstand, permanent buoy markers, and alignment starting docks for the boats.
As with the state championship regatta in Grand Rapids on May 19, this regatta admitted no novice boats. Boats were classified according to rowers’ age and weight. Rowers under 16 years old raced in junior boats, with rowers aged 16 to 19 in senior boats.
Pioneer entered 11 boats in the regatta, with 10 boats progressing to the semifinals— including five that finished among the semifinals’ top three. Of the 10 boats advancing to the semifinals, four earned a chance to compete in the finals, including the two that went on to medal. The four that advanced to the finals were: Senior men 72 kg 8+; Junior men 72 kg 4+; Junior women 63 kg 8+; and the Junior men 8+. The fastest Pioneer boat on the course was the senior men’s 72 kg 8+ with a time of 6:28.9.
The three days of weather saw near-perfect rowing conditions, though temperatures ranged from cool to warm. On the warmest of the three racing days, Friday, temperatures reached a low of 66 and a high of 72, with winds at 13 to 16 miles per hour. One weather delay occurred in the late morning after thunder rumbled in the distance. The sun occasionally ventured out from behind the clouds, bringing warmth.
Saturday brought a low of 59 and a high of 70 degrees under overcast skies with little to no wind, at one to 4 miles per hour. The air felt cooler than Friday’s, owing in part to the daylong cloud cover. Sunday, too, was mostly overcast, though with intermittent periods of sunshine. Temperatures again ranged from a low of 59 to a high of 73, with winds light at one to 3 miles per hour.
For Pioneer seniors on the crew team, a handful of whom had rowed together for four years, the regatta marked their final opportunity in their high school career to pull for Pioneer. The team celebrated the seniors with a graduation party while in Canada.
This regatta concludes the spring 2018 crew season for Pioneer. The team will host a three-day Trial Row mini-camp for middle school students and high school novices during the first week of the summer holiday, starting June 18. Details are on the team’s website at http://www.pioneercrew.org/join/trial-row
The Pioneer crew team will then begin its fall 2018 season with the start of the 2018–19 school year.
Senior men 72 kg 8+, with a time of 6:28.9: Josh Joyce, Max Bayer, Jacob Segal, Jack Haviland, Martin Jalet, Rob Snyder, Gabe Gurule, Josh Grant with Natalie Uytingco as coxswain.
Junior women 63 kg 8+, with a time of 7:38.4: Alyssa Sun, Tina Ai, Jasmine Bose Partridge, Erica Burns, Ella Cunningham, Ariel Mobius, Presley Koepp, Catharine Sukpraphrute with Lisa Brinkel as coxswain.