Pioneer Crew Finishes Strong this Spring at Two Championship Regattas


By Cathy Mizgerd

Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School capped off its spring 2019 season with a trio of silver medals earned at two consecutive national championship regattas on back-to-back weekends. 

On Saturday and Sunday, May 24–25, the Pioneer women’s freshman 8+ boat won silver at the 2019 Scholastic Rowing Association of America (SRAA) regatta on Dillon Lake in Zanesville, Ohio. On the following weekend, Friday through Sunday, May 31–June 2, Pioneer brought home two silver medals from the 2019 Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) regatta, including one each for a men’s and a women’s junior 8+ boat.

The women’s freshman 8+ boat that medaled at the SRAA championship races in Ohio was the first and only boat the Pioneer crew team has entered in this annual regatta in a number of years. Though the regatta’s U.S. location typically varies from one year to the next, this year’s regatta took place relatively close to home for the Pioneers. The race course consisted of a 1,500-meter sprint along the western edge of the 1,560-acre Dillon Lake reservoir.

Pioneer freshmen women’s assistant coach Kirsten Brinkmeier (far left) and freshmen women’s head coach Shelby Benham (far right) with the women’s freshmen 8+ at SRAA (photo by Julie Meloni)

At the CSSRA competition, this marked the second year in a row for Pioneer to medal with two 8+ boats in Canada in the same year. Pioneer entered 12 boats, with seven progressing to the finals: the men’s senior 72 kg 8+; men’s senior 4+; women’s junior 8+; men’s junior 72 kg 8+; women’s junior 63 kg 8+; women’s junior 63kg 4+; and women’s senior 8+. The fastest Pioneer boat on the course was the senior men’s 72 kg 8+ with a time of 6:48.17.

Held at Martindale Pond in St. Catharines, Ontario, this was CSSRA’s 74th annual championship regatta. It brought together 1,988 athletes and 127 clubs entering 697 boats from all over the United States and Canada. Heat rounds and semifinals led to final races in 38 events on Sunday, with 72 clubs competing in the finals. All racing was done in sprint format.

The two-kilometer CSSRA course 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.

The SRAA and CSSRA regattas do not admit novice boats. At CSSRA, boats are classified according to rowers’ age and weight. Rowers who are younger than 16 years old race as juniors, and 16- to 19-year-old rowers race as seniors.

With these two national championship regattas, the Pioneer Rowing Club concludes its spring 2019 season. The team will host a three-day Trial Row mini-camp for middle school students and upcoming high school freshmen during the week of June 17, 2019. Registration is open, with details at

Pioneer men’s junior 72kg 8+ at CSSRA (photo by Lisa McKarns)

The rowing program at Pioneer High School will then resume its regular practice schedule during fall semester in September 2019.


(CSSRA – 2k course)

Women’s Junior 63 kg 8+, with a time of 7:23.69: Presley Koepp, Tina Ai, Alyssa Sun, MK Coolican, Emma Bassett, Abby Stephen, Erica Burns, Radina Dinov with Talia Zakalik as coxswain 

Men’s Junior 72 kg 8+, with a time of 6:51.33: Luke Hudgins, Will McKarns, Gabe Raux, Grayson Hobrecht, Evan Guzek, Luke Fisher, Erik Hanson, Charlie Clynes with Charlie Herz as coxswain

(SRAA – 1.5k course)

Women’s Freshmen 8+, with a time of 5:22.49: Emma Bassett, Radina Dinov, Grace Kennel, MK Coolican, Talya Castell, Lillian Davidson-Walshe, Aichata Sanogo, Abby Stephen with Anna Kaganov as coxswain

MAIN PHOTO: Pioneer women’s junior 63kg 8+ at CSSRA (photo by Tina Brinkel)

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