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Rams earn 8 Medals at Rowing Invitational

By Patricia Sundman, 04/27/19, 11:30PM EDT

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Mens Varsity 8+ Crew earning bronze medals are Jason Scott, David Baker, Joe Saenz, Chris Neihoff, Blake Jackson, David Ensley, Jake Janseen, Eliot Van Pelt, and Coxswain Allison Ziemba. ~ Photo by Aaron Sundman

Rockford Rams Rowing delivered the goods with eight medals at the 24th Annual Grand Rapids High School Rowing Invitational, hosted by Forest Hills Central Crew.  The event took place Saturday, April 27, and was held in Riverside Park on the banks of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. The venue offers a spacious 1,500-meter race course and offers scenic sights of the city. Eleven clubs from three states participated, including Rockford Crew, Anthony Wayne Crew, East Grand Rapids Crew, Forest Hills Central, Forest Hills Eastern, Forest Hills Northern, Grand Rapids Rowing Association, Huron Rowing Association, North Suburban Crew, Northview, and Spring Lake Crew Club.

Rockford Rowing placed third in the men’s competition. The women’s team placed second, and the Huron Rowing Association of Ann Arbor were champions of the day.

The Mens 8+ Novice earned a Gold medal, with a boat made up of Ty Maksimowski, Roman Lowery, Calvin Schrotenboer, Garrett Floerchinger, Brendon Snedeker, Shane Johnson, Connor Wolownik, Cole Rice, and Coxswain Logan Schlaud.

Also taking Gold was the JV Womens 8+, comprised of Chloe Merritt, Amelia Sundman, Amanda Skarda, Sophie Stauffer, Hannah Burmania, Courtney Mathis, Ally Kinstle, Avery Sluiter and Coxswain Callie Perini.

The Women’s Novice 8+ boat earned a Silver medal, comprised of Kahlan Dukes, Riley Peterson, Eden Shaw, Bella Mackenzie, Lindsey Rendon, Catherine Schipper, Isabel Macka, Avery Sluiter and Coxswain Molly Fischer.

The Junior Mens 8+ boat earned Silver, with rowers Joe Saenz, Shane Johnson, Cole Rice, Chris Neihoff, Dominic Reale, David Ensley, Jake Janssen, David Baker and Coxswain Jack Pritchard.

Also taking Silver was the Senior Womens Lightweight 4+ boat with rowers Kahlan Dukes, Catherine Schipper, Mackenzie Rutgers, Madison Boss and Coxswain Rory McMahon.

The Senior Womens 8+ earned Silver with Chloe Merritt, Amelia Sundman, Amanda Skarda, Sophie Staufffer, Hannah Burmania, Courtney Mathis, Ally Kinstle, Emma Lassig, and Coxswain Callie Perini.

Two boats earned Bronze medals. The Senior Mens 4+ boat with Jason Scott, Blake Jackson, Sam Sundman, Eliot Van Pelt, and Coxswain Allison Ziemba and the Senior Mens 8+boat with Jason Scott, David Baker, Joe Saenz, Chris Neihoff, Blake Jackson, David Ensley, Jake Janssen, Eliot Van Pelt, and Coxswain Allison Ziemba.

After the completion of the Regatta and the awarding of medals, the Rowing Rams took the opportunity to row 90 minutes back to the Jupiter Boathouse to take advantage of the additional time on the water. 

Women’s Head Coach Dilan Itter congratulated the athletes after their return.  “A lot of us got silver medals,” Itter says. “I’m sure you want that to be gold next time.  That happens by outworking the other crews. That’s what we’ve been talking about and that’s why we did so great. We talked a lot about the gaps at Frogtown.  Both the guys and girls decreased that gap significantly. The guys Varsity 8 boat took off 20 seconds and the girls V8 tightened the gap of 15 seconds to 4 seconds. We are seeing those gains but for them to keep happening you must work even harder. As your boats get faster, it is going to be harder to find speed. And the only way to do that is by staying really focused. Be productive. Listen to your coxswains. Listen to your coaches. Keep the positive attitude. Keep that work ethic. You guys have gotten so much faster on the water and on the ergs here, but you must keep growing.”

The coaches also stressed in these busy times to make sure the athletes are keeping up on their academics. “You are a student-athlete. As we start to do a lot more travelling, keep that focus.  A lot of you guys are going to learn a lot from rowing, but your grades are going to get you into college, trade school, or prepare you for a career. We need to keep up on the grades and time management. Be proactive. Just like you prepare for the next stroke in Rowing, have that preparation with school. We’ve only got 3 days on the water this week, loading on Thursday and travelling on Friday.  Same with next week with the Midwest in Ohio. We have six days on the water before Midwest Championship that determines whether you make it to Nationals.  Keep that work ethic and time management. Stay focused. Stay humbled. Don’t let that ego catch up with you. You guys have been successful because you’re hungry. Keep that hunger.”

The freshmen broke it down with the traditional, “What have we got on 3?  What have we got on 3?  1-2-3 RAMS!”  and with that, the Rams moved on to preparing for the St. Mary’s Prep Laddie Cup Regatta, being held in Orchard Lake Michigan on Saturday, May 4. 

To learn more about Rockford Rowing, Visit www.RockfordRowing.com.


Boats preparing for the start of a race on the Grand River overlooking the city. ~ Photo by Aaron Sundman


Gold Medalists in the JV Womens 8+ Avery Sluiter, Courtney Mathis, Amanda Skarda, Chloe Merritt, Hannah Burmania, Ally Kinstle, Amelia Sundman, Sophia Stauffer, and Coxswain Callie Perini. ~ Photo by Aaron Sundman


Four of the Nine Rockford Rowing Seniors Eliot Van Pelt, Blake Jackson, Sam Sundman, and Ethan Margot. ~ Photo by Aaron Sundman


The Varsity Womens 8+ earned silver and the Grand Rapids High School Invitational Regatta with Emma Lassig, Courtney Mathis, Amanda Skarda, Chloe Merritt, Hannah Burmania, Ally Kinstle, Amelia Sundman, Sophia Stauffer, and Coxswain Callie Perini. ~ Photo


The Rockford Rowing Team following the 24th Annual Grand Rapids High School Rowing Invitational. ~ Photo by Aaron Sundman