The weather has finally come around and the water appears calm as the Pioneer crew team is ready to roll on down the river with big expectations for the spring season.
“We are again hoping to be contending for a State Championship, and hope to do well at the Midwest Scholastic Championships, both in mid-May,” said Coach Rich Griffith, who has been the captain of the Pioneer ship since 2005.
Scott Menoch has coached the women’s team since 2011.
Last season was a big year for the Pioneers as the women won their fourth consecutive State Championship. During the Midwest Scholastic Championship, Pioneer’s accomplishments included Men’s Novice Four, gold medal; Women’s Varsity Four, silver medal; and Men’s Novice Eight, silver medal.
Top returning members for the boys include senior Josh Joyce (captain) and juniors James Wishart and Max Bayer.
Top returning members for the girls include senior captains Kate Hollenbeck and Lucie Roy and sophomore Molly Maloy.
The Pioneers have plenty of strengths to build on this season.
“Right now the freshman and sophomores are quite strong, giving us tremendous depth and a solid continuation of success moving forward,” said Griffith. “The team itself is extremely supportive internally, which motivates and fuels improvement. The Men’s Varsity team is three eights deep, while the Women Varsity are working with a single eight.”
The team kicked off the season last Saturday at a scrimmage. It was a good warm-up and learning experience.
“Against our two primary state rivals, St’ Mary’s and Rockford, we held our own and were competitive throughout the day,” Griffith said. “The weather has severely limited everyone’s ability to get good water time this spring, but it’s good to see that even with much improvement and conditioning to gain, we remain on par in state.”
Griffith said that first race is about shaking out the kinks and getting some actual racing behind them.
“Once we get that adrenaline feel it’s easier to bring greater intensity to our practice pieces where the big gains will be made,” he said. “Second, we know where we stand competitively, and where we need to improve. Despite the relative success, it was an eye-opener for everyone regarding how much more work needs to be done in a very short time. Championship racing starts in less than three weeks.”
Pioneer missed racing the local competition in Huron and Skyline due to a weather cancellation the previous weekend.
“Being fast against them is a good barometer, as all three are extremely competitive in the Midwest region,” Griffith said.
Pioneer had a break scheduled into the regatta cycle, but having missed the first one, they will be on the water racing at least themselves, and possibly Huron in order to get as much racing feel in as possible.
“All water time is critical having lost so much of it in the first five weeks of our season,” he said.