Four members of the Egg Harbor Township High School girls crew team, seniors Sydnie Pennington, Antonia Maffia, Vida Torres and Emily Woods, will continue their careers at Division I colleges next year.
Pennington and Maffia will both row for Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. Torres, a coxswain, will compete for Rutgers University in Piscataway. Woods will row for Jacksonville University (Fla.) All four will receive partial scholarships that are both athletic and academic.
Maffia, Woods and Torres are members of the EHT girls varsity four, and Pennington rows in the varsity double.
Pennington and partner Alex Bossi won a three-boat varsity double final by more than 17 seconds at the Garden State Scholastic Rowing Championships on Saturday on the Cooper River in Camden. The varsity four finished fourth in its final, a race won by Holy Spirit. The EHT crew had the second-best time out of 12 boats in the preliminary heats.
The Garden State regatta was the first of five championship events on consecutive weekends that finish the crew season.
Woods, seat-2 of the varsity four, committed to Jacksonville two weeks ago, the last of the four to do so.
"It's perfect timing for them to have their college situations finalized with the medal races coming up," Egg Harbor Township girls crew coach Dan Welsh said. "They're all excellent students and outstanding athletes. Now they can relax and concentrate on rowing. We're hoping those two boats can do some things."
Pennington, 18, rowed two years at Holy Spirit before transferring to EHT. She plans to major in economics and political science.
"Duquesne offered me the largest scholarship, counting athletic and academic," Pennington said. "Their program is doing well in the Atlantic 10 (Conference). I loved the team and the coaches. I also wanted to go to a school that's in the cold weather."
Pennington also visited George Washington, George Mason and St. Joseph's universities.
"Sydnie was pretty highly recruited," Welsh said. "She's maybe our best all-around rower when you combine erg rowing and technique. She's dedicated and loves the sport."
Maffia, 18, is seat-3 of the varsity four, which won its most recent race, a heat at the fifth and final Manny Flick-Horvat Series regatta in Philadelphia on April 13.
Maffia also visited Rhode Island University, George Mason, Merrimack College and Nova Southeastern before choosing Duquesne. She'll major in elemenatary education.
"I loved the coaches, and I really liked Pittsburgh," Maffia said. "The school is on the edge of the city. The Atlantic 10 is a strong conference. They're a team that's getting better and I'm really excited to help them."
Maffia also was the Egg Harbor Township girls soccer goalie this past fall. She was in both sports four years.
"Antonia has improved each year," Welsh said. "I'm excited to see what she can do at the next level when she rows crew all year round. She has won a lot of medals for us, and I think she'll hit her stride at the next level."
Torres, 18, favored Rutgers from the beginning, because her older sister Emily Samantha went there, and because the Scarlet Knights are moving to the Big Ten. She'll major in computer science.
"I've spent a lot of time there with my sister and I always liked it," Torres, 18, said. "Moving to the Big Ten helped me to choose (Rutgers), too. I loved the team, and especially the coaches. They've been there a long time, and they're dedicated. I like the fact that it's not too far from home. I go to a big high school, and I'll like going to an even bigger college."
Torres was also a member of the highly successful EHT girls tennis team for her first three years, playing third singles her first year, and second singles as a sophomore and junior.
Welsh said that Torres' scholarship is nearly full, counting both academic and athletic. He said that his program has had many good coxswains, and that Torres is one of the best.
"Vida is a great motivator, and she helps the team to be very successful," Welsh said. "She's a very good athlete. People don't think of coxswains as athletes, but she has brought leadership and athletic skills to the position. She'll like being in the Big Ten. They'll race Michigan and Wisconsin, two of the best teams in the country."
Woods, 18, also visited Temple, Delaware, the University of Charleston, and Marietta College, but committed to Jacksonville after a visit last weekend. She'll be in a five-year program to get her master's degree in elementary education. Jacksonville is coached by former Holy Spirit assistant Mike Peterson.
"It was hard to decide between the schools, but I loved the (Jacksonville) campus," Woods said. "They're an excellent academic school, and I liked the fact that the crew team is very well-coached. I met the team in a practice, and they get along really well. You need that a lot."
Woods said that the Jacksonville coaches told her that rowing in a four-boat in high school is good preparation for rowing in an eight-boat in college. The coaches said that four-boat rowers have to learn technique, since there are less people rowing.
"Emily was looking at a lot of schools, and Jacksonville is a good fit for her," Welsh said. "No kid works harder than Emily. I've seen her row so hard that her hands started bleeding. I think both she and Jacksonville will do well."
Rebecca Suthard and Maddie Barbieri (the other two members of the EHT varsity four) combined with Woods, Maffia and Torres to be the Eagles junior four last year. The crew won its division at the Garden State and Atlantic County regattas and became a Press All-Star boat.
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