Margot Cochran for the Montclair Local
Like the hold put on so many of the activities enjoyed prior to the pandemic, it had been 18 months since the Montclair High School rowing team had competed.
While competitions were discontinued, that did not mean there were not efforts by the coaches to keep the athletes in shape and connected during the days of remote learning. They had Zoom get-togethers and workouts. They did quizzes and even had a prom-dress night to keep the team engaged.
They did get back on the river in July. While wearing masks is mandatory, the placement of the seats in the boats do keep the rowers at a distance and the rowers were instructed to stay in small groups and keep their distance from others while on land.
They did not train indoors during the winter but braved the cold to practice all winter long on the river. They row from the Nereid Boat House on the Passaic River in Rutherford.
The head coaches, Jeremy Michalitsianos and Lorna Rundle are joined this year by long-time assistant coach, Reubin Man, and a coach who joined the team last year, Dan Gurkas, who rowed in high school and is currently a fireman and EMT in Kearny. Also returning to the town team are alumni John Moore, MHS class of 2016, and Jenna Walpole, ‘15. Moore rowed at Rutgers and Walpole at Bucknell.
“We are very happy to welcome two past MHS rowers, both of whom were Captains, back to the team to help coach,” said Rundle. “They were great team members, and have been terrific examples for the current athletes.”
The team did well competing in the 1st Manny Flick down in Philadelphia on April 11th. The girls varsity four won their category.
Senior coxswain, Izzy Beck said, “It was emotional returning to the Schuylkill River and great to win our first race by three lengths of open water.”
Also winning their categories were seniors Francesca Meyer and Marlis Senecal in the girls varsity double, and the girls novice eight in their first ever race.
Montclair topped the medal table in the 2nd second Manny Flick on April 18th. Winning were the girls varsity four powered by Sophie King, Zoe Larkey, Isabella Moreno, Amelia Snyder with coxswain Samantha Bloomstein and the girls novice eight for the second week in a row. The novice athletes were Maxine Guerra, Sofia LoVerdi, Isabelle Apprendi, Antonia Greer, Eliza Bender, Peyton Yoo, Alexandra Gawler, Alexia DeVilbiss, Sage C. Santora. Winning for the boys were the boys freshmen eight, coxed by Carly Knutzen and rowed by Alex Thomas, Zach Johnson, Sebastian Patino, Zach Bentham, Ethan Woroniecki, Ryan Unruh, Colin Phariss, Jacob Kugelmass, the boys freshmen quad crossed the finish line in first with Luke Cronin, Gabriel Lampe, Kieran McCann, and Oliver Bates, and the boys varsity four with Jack Miller, Benjamin Rose, Charles Abrahams, and George Harb and steered by cox Claire Higgins Hart.