Montclair High crew teams capture state championships
by MARGOT COCHRAN
for Montclair Local
This past Sunday, April 29, Montclair High School crew became the first public school in the history of the Garden State Scholastic Championships to win state championship point trophies for both men’s and women’s events.
The Mounties also became the first public school in the history of the championships to win both the men’s varsity eight and women’s varsity eight titles.
Montclair The boys walked off with the Al Wachlin Trophy, ending a nine-year run by St. Augustine Prep and the girls took the Dr. James Kelly Trophy, ending Holy Spirit’s domination for nine consecutive years.
“This is a huge achievement by our team,” said head coach Jeremy Michalitsianos. “All of our athletes came away with a gold or silver medal, which is itself fantastic, but to win both point trophies puts this up there as one of our greatest days.”
After racing qualifying heats in the morning, all Montclair boats qualified to go on to the finals in the afternoon.
The first final was the women’s freshman eight, stroked by Efi Mihalis and pulled by Isabella Hummel, Kate Mihalis, Davida Task, Estee Goel, Josephine Myung, Helena Nintzel, and Solveig Jensen, with Audrey Ashbrook as coxswain.
The girls became the first of Montclair’s state champions, beating their nearest opponent, Ocean City, by 4 seconds. The next three finals saw the men’s freshman eight, men’s JV eight, and women’s lightweight varsity double win silver medals.
The men’s freshman eight, who finished fastest in the heats, could not hold off Christian Brothers in the final. With Evan Unruh as stroke, rowers were Ryan Davis, Nur Robertson, Max Pursche, Manny Angeles, Aidan Duffy, Adam Feldberg, and Maximo Cespedes, with cox Amelia Cataldi.
The men’s junior varsity eight raced hard but could not overcome Mainland. Coxed by Nora Grabcheski, the rowers were Lucas Cooperman, Liam Daly-Smith, Joseph Rosen, Julian Zincani, Henry Skutch, Jimmy Connors, Josh Hojegian, and Jake Magaldi.
Seniors Cara Meyer and Gabby Remedios, racing in the lightweight varsity double, found the windy, choppy conditions challenging. “It’s much harder racing in a small boat in these conditions,” said Rundle. “The girls felt they could have done better, but I’m really proud of them. They’ve only been in this boat for a week. Silver is great!”
The last four finals of the day saw Montclair victories in every race.
First to compete were the women’s second varsity eight. Senior captains Lily Kuhn and Emery Bergman drove hard to the finish along with teammates Wynn McClenahan, Maddie Barnett, Emily Kaloudis, Sydney Schulman, Kaya Adleman and Kathleen King, and their coxswain, freshman Catherine Stanton. The boat moved into the lead by the halfway mark of the 1,500-meter sprint and held that lead, beating Holy Spirit by nearly 4 seconds.
Next to race were the men’s second varsity eight with seniors CJ Kaloudis and James McCallum. The boat took control of the race early on and won by 14 seconds. Coxed by senior Lexi Greenbaum, the other rowers included stroke Walter Collins, and Patrick Schroeder, Alex Abuhoff, Paul Mihalis, Theo Weil, and Brie Muldoon.
Then it was time for the first varsity eights. Senior Juliet Traylor, who has been recruited to row at Southern Methodist University next year, said she felt confident. “We started to break away quite early,” said Traylor. “It wasn’t our best row, but it got the job done.”
In the end it was a comfortable win over Holy Spirit by 6 seconds . Rowing with Traylor were Madeline Pitera, Beate Kaz, Isobel Wastler, Delainy Schlemmer, Roisin Cahill, Kimberly Troeller, Marley Pradieu, with cox Chloe Rosenberg.
The last race was the men’s varsity eight. Senior captains Kjel Schlemmer and Patrick King, along with senior Devin Murphy, juniors Henry Vecchione, Owen King, Kenny Coplan, Djoume Traore, and George Vrotsos-Rogers, were coxed by Julianna Langhorn.
Head coach Jeremy Michalitsianos watched with MHS Athletic Director Jeff Gannon as the boys won the State Champions, sealing the total for the point trophy and confirming that the entire team had become state champions.
“It was amazing to watch those four races with Mr. Gannon,” said Michalitsianos. “His support is so appreciated. We’re just so proud of all our kids. They work so hard, and this is a really big payoff.”
“We have an amazing team,” said senior coach Rundle. “We have fantastic support from our parents and our school. I couldn’t be more proud than I am today. I looked up the course as the boys came down and I knew they were in front and going to win, I turned to Reuben and said we’re about to win four varsity race events in a row and take both point trophies home.”
The team looks forward to the Stotesbury Cup Championship regatta on May 19 and 20, and the Scholastic Rowing Association of America nationals the following week.