Mercer junior rowers win silver medal at USRowing Youth National Championships

The Mercer Youth Men’s 4 rowing team with coxswain celebrates winning second place at nationals.

The The Princeton National Rowing Association/Mercer youth men’s four team with coxswain finished second in the country at the USRowing Youth National Championships this month. Princeton National Rowing Association/Mercer also tied for second among all programs, with six crews finishing in the top 10. A total of nine boats and 39 athletes competed in the national championship held at the Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida June 6 to 9.

“Nationals was a great experience and getting second in the nation was something truly special,” said senior co-captain Brady Stergion of Notre Dame High School. “It’s moments like these that remind me how much effort those around me have put into that race, this season, and Mercer. I feel truly blessed to have been able to compete at the national level.”

The other members of the boat include senior coxswain Anne Marie Huber of Stuart Country Day School, senior co-captain Jack Gallagher of Council Rock High North, junior Leon Deng of Princeton High School, and junior Grant Smith of Montgomery High School. The crew finished with a time of 6:21.15, less than three tenths of a second behind first place.

Head Mercer Varsity Boys Coach Jamie Hamp, who just completed his first year at the helm of the Mercer Boys program, was pleased with the performance of all the Mercer boats.

“We had a really young team this spring and definitely had a lot of work to do to get to where we are now,” Hamp said. “There are some moments we wish we could have back, but overall the boys had a great weekend and raced hard across all levels against the top boats and teams in the country. Everyone learned something from the regatta and I’m excited to see what these guys can do in the coming years.”

The youth women’s 8-plus won both the time trial and the semi-final to race in the A final. In one of the closest finishes of the event, they placed 4th with a time of 6:28.071, which was just .016 seconds behind the bronze medal boat.

“Nationals was such an amazing experience this year,” said senior coxswain Helena Wolk of Princeton High School. “We had tight racing at the end, and while having such a close finish is disappointing when you don’t medal by .016 seconds, it was an awesome race and I know all 9 of us put it all out on the course. The entire girls’ team showed how deep the Mercer girls are and I’m so proud of how every boat placed.”

In addition to Wolk, the lineup included junior Sophia Craver of Princeton High School, senior Sylvie Tuder of Princeton High School, junior Erin Heyeck of the Pennington School, senior Catherine Dyevich of Princeton High School, senior Morgan Linsley of Princeton High School, senior Logan Sudholz of Pennridge High School, senior Caroline Gibson of Princeton High School, and junior Ava Wisnowski of Northern Burlington High School.

Matt Carlsen, in his third year as head coach of the Mercer Varsity Girls, said he was very pleased with the results for the season and the national competition.

“One of the goals for this year was to have one of the deepest teams in the country and I think after seeing our results, we achieved that goal,” Carlsen said. “We were the only girls team to send five boats, and all five of those boats finished within the top 20 nationally and that was with nobody double racing. We would not have had the results we did this past weekend without all 46 varsity girls believing in what our end goals were and pushing each other every day from the start of the fall season to the end of spring season. We also would not have been able to become the racers that we all saw over the weekend if we didn’t race the boy’s boats over the past few weeks. If we continue the momentum that we have built over the past year into next year, we will have another amazing year.”

The Princeton National Rowing Association/Mercer also had two youth men’s pairs competing. Sophomores Andrew Griesinger of Princeton Day School and Julian Thomas of the Pennington School placed second in the B final for 8th in the country, just ahead of teammates senior Spencer Stengle of Princeton High School and junior John Mongelli of Hunterdon Central High, who finished 10th. Griesinger and Thomas also doubled into the youth men’s 8-plus competition.

The youth women’s lightweight 4-plus team placed 8th in the country. Team members were: junior coxswain Emma Dziedzic of Robbinsville High School, senior Chloe Couillens of Hopewell Valley Central High, junior Riddhi Singh of Stanford Online High School, junior Cara Barkenbush of West Windsor-Plainsboro High South, and junior Natalie Verlinde of Princeton High School.

The youth women’s 2 team earned 9th place in the nation for sophomore Riley Cooper of Hunterdon Central High School and junior Elyse Szych of North Hunterdon High School.

In the Youth Women’s 4-plus competition, the combination of junior coxswain Sunny Hu of Stuart Country Day School, senior co-captains Sarah Closser of Princeton High School and Jacqueline Armetta of Villa Joseph Marie High School, junior Kristen Harkins of Notre Dame High School and sophomore Eva Wojnovich of Council Rock North placed 12th in the nation.

The Princeton National Rowing Association/Mercer raced in the youth women’s lightweight double. It was the first sculling boat the program has ever qualified for the Youth National Championship. The duo of juniors Eveline Enthoven of Princeton High School and Abigail McAleer of Council Rock High North finished 4th in the C final, putting them at 16th in the nation in that event.

The Youth Men’s 8 team with coxswain placed 24th overall. The boat included sophomore coxswain Kyle Rutter of West Windsor-Plainsboro High South, sophomores Andrew Griesinger, Julian Thomas, and Joseph DiRusso of Notre Dame High School, George Drago of Notre Dame High School, Thomas Closser of Princeton High School, Theodore Schneider of Pennsbury High School, Matthew Bigga of Montgomery High School, and senior Brian Radvany of Princeton Day School.

To learn more, visit www.rowpnra.org.

All five Princeton National Rowing Association/Mercer girls’ teams placed in the top 20 at nationals.