MAYS LANDING — The Holy Spirit High School girls varsity eight won with something to spare Sunday at the 10th annual Atlantic County High School Rowing Championships on Lake Lenape. The Spirit boys varsity eight beat two-time defending champion St. Augustine Prep by less than three feet in one of the day’s most exciting races.

The two wins kept both Holy Spirit teams at No. 1 in The Press Elite 11.

The Spartans girls varsity eight cruised to the 1,500-meter win on the lake, beating second-place Oakcrest by 1 1/4 boatlengths in 5 minutes, 6.0 seconds. The Falcons crossed the line in 5:11.28 and Absegami was third in 5:16.12.

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“They did a nice job,” Holy Spirit girls crew coach Joe Welsh said. “The main key was that they got back to racing mode (following the postponement of the Philadelphia City Championships on May 4). They were focused, and that gives you energy, which you want. With the City’s postponed there was a bit of a lag at a couple practices. Today we had a long talk, and they were really pumped up.”

The Holy Spirit crew included stroke Cailin McCully, Tara Puhalski, Kylie Magee, Lauren Thomas, Amanda Reale, Christine Wojciechowicz, Danielle LaRontonda, bow Michelle Smith and coxswain Onora Labrum.

“We got out at the start and kept the lead the whole race,” said Thomas, a 16-year-old junior from Absecon. “We were all confident and took it stroke by stroke.”

Smith is in her third year in the varsity eight. “‘A lot of the girls are the same as last year, and we’re getting stronger,” said Smith, a 17-year-old senior from Brigantine. “I think we actually got better (with a week off from racing), with the extra practices.”

Holy Spirit also won the girls overall team points championship and the combined points title for boys and girls. St. Augustine took the boys points championship.

“That (winning the points titles) is a credit to depth,” Welsh said. “Our kids are dedicated, from the novices all the way to the varsity. We’re blessed to have the kids we have.”

The Holy Spirit boys varsity eight’s duel with the Prep was a thrilller to the end. The Spartans won in the last 20 meters in 4:20.36. The Hermits were second in 4:20.79 and Oakcrest took third in 4:24.07.

The Holy Spirit crew included stroke Brett Hanson, Austin Theuret, Jack Marczyk, Patrick Shober, Steve Brown, Harrison Gargel, Jake Fabel, bow Kris Walls and coxswain Ave’ McFadden.

“Anytime you race the Atlantic County teams it’s going to be tough, and that showed today,” Holy Spirit boys coach Mike Giegerich said. “Oakcrest, Mainland and St. Augustine have been racing tough against us all year. We were lucky enough to get ahead. A win is always nice.”

Brown said the race was close the whole way.

“There were times when they (the Prep) were gaining on us, but we took it back,” said Brown, a 17-year-old senior from Margate. “It wasn’t our best race today, but we gave what we could do. A win is a win, and we’re happy. Now we’re looking forward to the last few weeks of the season.”

The Stotesbury Cup Regatta is Friday and Saturday in Philadelphia, and the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Regatta is May 23 and 24 on Mercer Lake in Princeton Junction. The City Championships was tentatively rescheduled for Sunday, May 18.

Theuret also didn’t think it was the Spartans crew’s best race.

“There’s definitely always room for improvement,” said Theuret, a 17-year-old senior from Galloway Township.“The Stotesbury Cup will be a real test of how fast we actually are, I knew we’d win if we kicked up our sprint. We’ve won three races in a row with a sprint (the other two being the Mercer Lake Sprints and the Garden State Championship). Today was for all the coaches and moms.”

The Absegami boys varsity four turned in one of the biggest wins in program history, winning by 1 1/2 boatlengths in 5:16.60. The Braves crew featured stroke Kyle Hershman, Matt Deibert, Sam Ali, bow Joey Hawn and coxswain Shiv Patel.

“It was a huge win, especially since the five are all seniors,” Absegami first-year coach Todd Warker said. “They’ve been working so hard all season, and it finally came to fruition.”

The Holy Spirit girls varsity four won by three-quarters of a length in 5:54.20. The Spartans team included stroke Michelle Vizthum, Megan Gleason, Maggie Given, bow Catie Vesper and coxswain Claire McLenna.

“We didn’t count out anyone, all the way to the finish,” said Vesper, a 17-year-old senior from Margate. “We’re happy with the win, but we always want more.”

St. Augustine’s points title in the boys division included wins by the freshman eight and four, and the novice eight and four. Coach Ray D’Amico’s team also earned top three finishes in nearly all of its other entries.

“We have 24 freshmen, and they’re all athletes,” D’Amico said. “They’re doing great, and our future is rosy.

“I’m proud of our varsity eight. They’re good kids and they’re working hard. I have no regrets.”

Contact Guy Gargan:


Teams—Holy Spirit, Absegami, Oakcrest, St. Augustine Prep, Egg Harbor Township, Mainland Regional, Ocean City, Vineland, Atlantic City, Cedar Creek.

Overall team scoring—1. HS 234; 2. SA 213; 3. EHT 149

Boys team scoring—1. SA 213; 2. HS 96; 3. OC 81.

Girls team scoring—1. HS 138; 2. EHT 89; 3. OAK 75.


Girls single—1. Joselin Oudemans, CC 6:45.00; 2. HS 6:53.79; 3. EHT 7:22.13.

Boys single—1. Matt Deibert, ABS 6:31.30; 2. EHT 6:38.82; 3. MR 7:20.20.

Girls double—1. EHT (Alex Bossi, Sydnie Pennington) 6:08.30; 2. HS 6:16.30; 3. VIN 6:40.23.

Boys double—1. ABS (Kyle Hershman, Soban Ali) 6:26.60; 2. SA 6:32.76.

Girls junior quad—1. HS (Julia Riordan, Brianna Coble, Olivia Torres, Noelle Sullivan) 5:48.40; 2. AC 6:37.10.

Boys varsity quad—1. HS (Giovanni Magro, Shane Bell, GuoWei Lin, Khoa Nguyen) 5:20.38; 2. SA 5:58.88.

Boys freshman four—1. SA (Dale Davis, Spencer Infranco, Colin Lawn, Chris Fletcher, coxswain Gianni Finizio) 5:53.30; 2. HS 6:00.29; 3. EHT 6:16.80.

Girls freshman eight—1. HS (Steph DiIanni, Kira McCully, Erin Shober, Shannon Boyle, Abby Citta, Amanda Kelly, Calie Miller, Alexandria Lopez, coxswain Gigi Messina) 5:28.10; 2. OC 5:32.14; 3. MR 5:49.63.

Boys freshman eight—1. SA (Thomas Kolnik, Nicholas Whiteman, Collin Seabrook, Jeffrey Leonetti, Matt Mahon, Brendan Hughes, Gianni Gitto, Marc Angelastro, coxswain Greg Winterburn) 4:50.00; 2. MR 4:54.02; 3. OAK 5:12.14.

Girls junior four—1. MR (Kaitlyn Mullin, Jenna Rosado, Stefani Petrova, Pam Bacharach, coxswain Rachel Kelley) 5:34.10; 2. OC 5:47.91; 3. EHT 5:56.10.

Boys junior four—1. VIN (Kyle Leimeister, Mark Novatorskiy, Ezequiel Lira, Dylan Gentile, coxswain Neel Patel) 5:07.70; 2. SA 5:22.94; 3. MR 5:25.44.

Girls junior eight—1. HS (Brianna Stone, Erin Welsh, Tarryn Slattery, Samantha Stoll, Kalli Reganato, Rachel Highberger, Sara Miller, Julia Dalzell, coxswain Nicole Mayer) 5:19.31; 2. AC 5:37.00; 3. EHT 5:48.88.

Boys junior eight—1. OC (Nic DiMarco, Evan Nathan, Christian McDermott, Christian Baumgardner, Colin Stewart, Mike Daddi, Eric Lam, Ryan Fisher, coxswain Chase Devlin) 4:30.30; 2. SA 4:31.57; 3. ABS 4:52.33.

Girls lightweight four—1. EHT (Brook Gaskill, Adrianna Deebold, Krista Williams, Danielle McCormick, coxswain Allie Battaglini) 5:58.14; 2. OC 6:04.99; 3. VIN 6:20.51.

Boys lightweight four—1. EHT (Greg Diggins, Eric Battisti, Tom Putney, Brendan McHugh, coxswain Matthew Erlandson) 5:12.80; 2. MR 5:26.07; 3. SA 5:38.01.

Girls novice four—1. VIN (Mary Wagner, Hannah Bokma, Megan Fanelli, Amanda Smaniotto, coxswain Kathryn Faul) 6:25.32; 2. OC 6:45.46; 3. OAK 7:27.02.

Boys novice four—1. SA (Dominic Cristelli, Joshua Drexler, Brody Eccles, Julian Jae Silva, coxswain Gianni Finizio) 6:03.10; 2. OC 6:03.58; 3. CC 6:05.20.

Boys novice eight—1. SA (Chris Spiers, Matthew Sutter, Brendan Aldrich, Rocco Sangataldo, Ryan Hinnegan, Paul Orecchia, Spencer Infranco, Geno Mainiero, coxswain David Ricci) 5:01.00; 2. MR 5:09.19; 3. OC 5:09.59.

Girls novice eight—1. EHT (Kya Maffia, Taylor McCloskey, Madison Young, Malia Lively, Emily Taroncher, Ryleigh Leggio, Hollie McGovern, Jillian Moran, coxswain Jenna Pashley) 5:36.31; 2. ABS 5:37.55; 3. CC 5:41.15.

Boys lightweight eight—1. OC (Jacob Newsome, Will Graham, Patrick Carr, Jonathan Gift, Chris Delgrande, David Delgrande, Roman LaRosa, Brendan McClure, coxswain Chris Barham) 4:33.70; 2. SA 4:40.84; 3. VIN 5:09.24

Girls second eight—1. ABS (Kylie Bakley, Megan Razukas, Hannah Marr, Emily Sproule, Elizabeth Whitehurst, Taylor Murphy, Caitlyn West, Emily McGowan, coxswain Taylor Hennsley) 5:27.41; 2. AC 5:31.50; 3. OAK 5:36.15.

Boys second eight—1. HS (stroke Justin Koch, Joe Fairweather, Evan Sandt, Dennis Tuohy, Titan Tran, Jack Lynch, Dan Miller, Kyle Bailey, coxswain Peggy McLenna) 4:34.40; 2. MR 4:37.52; 3. S 4:45.77.

Girls varsity four—1. HS (Michelle Vizthum, Megan Gleason, Maggie Given, Catie Vesper, coxswain Claire McLenna) 5:54.20; 2. OC 5:57.32; 3. VIN 6:05.57.

Boys varsity four—1. ABS (Kyle Hershman, Matt Deibert, Sam Ali, Joey Hawn, coxswain Shiv Patel) 5:16.60; 2. EHT 5:21.64; 3. VIN 5:30.60.

Girls varsity eight—1. HS (Cailin McCully, Tara Puhalski, Kylie Magee, Lauren Thomas, Amanda Reale, Christine Wojciechowicz, Danielle LaRontonda, Michelle Smith, coxswain Onora Labrum) 5:06.00; 2. OAK 5:11.28; 3. ABS 5:16.12; 4. AC 5:17.63; 5. OC 5:57.13.

Boys varsity eight—1. HS (Brett Hanson, Austin Theuret, Jack Marczyk, Patrick Shober, Steve Brown, Harrison Gargel, Jake Fabel, Kris Walls, coxswain Ave’ McFadden) 4:20.36; 2. SA 4:20.79; 3. OAK 4:24.07; 4. MR 4:33.79; 5. AC 4:54.49..

A graduate of Penn State University, I worked at the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland, before joining The Press in 2013.

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