The Egg Harbor Township High School girls junior four is one of several leading area crews hoping to make a good showing at this weekend’s 91st annual Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia.
It won’t be easy.
The Stotesbury Cup, held Friday and Saturday, bills itself as the oldest and largest high school regatta in the world, and it gets many of the top crews from the eastern United States and Canada. Some divisions have more than 50 entries.
Racing both days will begin at 8 a.m. on the Schuylkill River. Time trials, called head races, start the action Friday, and semifinals will start at 4:20 p.m. Most of the semifinals are Saturday, with finals in 30 categories beginning at 1 p.m.
The EHT girls junior four is one of several contenders in a category that has 71 entries.
“We have a young team that’s getting faster, and we’re looking forward to Stotesbury,” said Dan Welsh, the Eagles’ girls crew coach. “We’re happy with how we’ve done so far at the medal (championship) races. Starting with the last (Manny) Flick (regatta on April 23), the whole team has been doing well. The biggest thing is what happens at Stotesbury and the Nationals (the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Regatta on May 26 and 27 on the Cooper River in Camden County).”
The Eagles’ junior four is looking to build on last Sunday, when it entered the more difficult girls varsity four category and won at the Atlantic County High School Rowing Championships on Lake Lenape. The win led EHT to a No. 5 ranking in The Press Elite 11, up from seventh. The crew will return to the junior-four division this weekend.
“We rolled the dice a little and came out very well,” Welsh said. “They raced some of the year as a varsity four anyway. We have a good junior-four B boat, and we put them in that division, and they got third.”
EHT won the six-boat varsity-four race in 5 minutes, 53.82 seconds, beating second-place Absegami by just more than a second. The EHT crew consisted of stroke Kelsey Diggins, Faith Hewitt, Audrey Hendriks, bow Betsy Ferra and coxswain Isabella Bejaran. Diggins and Bejaran are sophomores, and the rest are juniors.
“Rowing in the varsity four was a big challenge,” said Ferra, 17. “I had a lot of faith in us to do well. It was really cool because I know how much it meant to the coach. We just focused on rowing our race.”
The varsity-four and varsity-eight races are special at the Atlantic County Championships. The winners of those four races receive their medals from the moms on Mother’s Day in a ceremony at the beach by the lighthouse at Lake Lenape Park.
“It was really amazing,” said Hewitt, 17. “The moms were putting the medals around our necks, and the announcer was hyping us up.”
Hendriks, 16, said it’s the crew’s goal to earn a medal at Stotesbury.
The EHT crew of Kyra Maffia and Ryleigh Leggio won the girls doubles race Sunday. The Eagles’ novice four was also a winner. The crew included stroke Emily Thies, Alia Yannone, Allison Timm, bow Gabriella Connelly and coxswain Emily Rivera.
The Eagles’ junior eight was third in its County race. That lineup included stroke Hallie Wilkerson, Angelina Stapleton, Mackenzie Mahana, Emily Ross, Elsa Ferreras, Arianna Smith, Isabella Salerno, bow Vanessa Sandoval and coxswain Ariana Nguyen.