By Cathy Mizgerd and Kirsten Segal
The Pioneer crew team competed on Saturday and Sunday, May 12–13, in the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championship at Dillon Hills State Park in Nashport, Ohio. The Pioneer team was among 49 clubs from eight states that together entered 536 boats in this two-day series of time trials, semifinals, and final competitions.
This year’s field of competitors marked the largest that Pioneer has ever faced in the championship regatta—up a dozen boats, three clubs, and one state from last year’s 524 boats representing 46 clubs from seven states.
Teams raced in preliminary qualifying time trials on Saturday morning. Of all those entered, the fastest dozen boats were then slated to advance to semifinals by the afternoon.
The race course consisted of a 1,500-meter sprint along the western edge of the 1,560-acre Dillon Lake Reservoir. Conditions on Saturday morning were glorious and sunny, with temperatures about perfect for rowing—not too hot. Tranquil waters prevailed.
By noon, however, conditions shifted to include intense heat and a marked uptick in winds. Later in the afternoon, heavy rains arrived. Temperatures on Saturday ranged from 54 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind speed spanned from seven to 18 miles per hour, with gusts reaching up to 27 mph.
A thunderstorm with lightning on Saturday afternoon led to the cancellation of some of the scheduled semifinal races. In these cases, results from the morning heat trials were used to determine which boats would advance to the finals. This affected the eligibility of a handful of Pioneer boats to compete in the finals, which were held Sunday.
“In my 15 years, I have never seen an afternoon of racing go in that manner,” said Pioneer High School Head Rowing Coach Rich Griffith. As unexpected weather led to unexpected shifts in the racing schedule, “our kids learned to race each race as if it was their last,” Griffith said.
Though Sunday dawned foggy, glass-like waters promised favorable conditions for rowing. As the morning progressed, the fog burned off and heat descended, with temperatures throughout the day ranging from 58 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds were calmer than on Saturday, ranging generally from three to 14 mph, through gusts at times reached 18 mph.
Of the 17 boats that Pioneer entered in the regatta, 10 advanced to the finals and one to a petite final, with five of those 11 boats going on to earn medals. The field of competitors included some of the strongest and fastest rowers from across the midwest.
“We faced some teams that cut more kids than we have on our squad,” said Pioneer Rowing Club Board President Tina Brinkel. “To continue in this mix at this pace is indeed extraordinary, and each of our finals-qualifiers should feel extremely accomplished.”
The fastest Pioneer boat on the course was the men’s varsity 8 with a time of 4:59.7.
The team will travel to Riverside Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday, May 19, for the 10th State Championship, to be hosted by the Scholastic Rowing Association of Michigan.
Men’s Novice 4+, with a time of 5:47.8: Nathan Sprick, Het Patel, Cooper Hite, Hank Murdock with Adi Bapat as coxswain
Women’s Novice 8+, with a time of 5:49.4: Alyssa Sun, Laura Akey, Jasmine Bose Partridge, Erica Burns, Hope Hesseltine, Catharine Sukpraphrute, Presley Koepp, Madeline Hollander with Talia Zakalik as coxswain
Men’s Second Varsity 4+, with a time of 5:50.3: Cal McCullough, Jack Haviland, Josh Weiner, Josh Grant with Natalie Uytingco as coxswain
Men’s Lightweight Novice 4+, with a time of 5:50.9: Luke Hudgins, Finley Gordon, Luke Fisher, Stephen Flynn with Tristan Serr as coxswain
Women’s Freshman 8+, with a time of 5:54.8: Alyssa Sun, Tina Ai, Jasmine Bose Partridge, Laura Akey, Hope Hesseltine, Erica Burns, Presley Koepp, Catharine Sukpraphrute with Talia Zakalik as coxswain