Like other boats at the 88th Stotesbury Cup Regatta, Mount St. Joseph Academy capitalized Saturday on the swift early current that went along with being positioned on one of the outer lanes of the Schuylkill.
Taking command in the first 1,000 meters, the Mount's varsity eight, securing its third crown in five seasons, won by open water with a clocking of 4 minutes, 25.30 seconds. It easily triumphed after placing fourth in Friday's time trials.
"We really stayed calm and collected, took a lot of deep breaths before the race," said Lauren Matchett, a senior tricaptain and second seat. "The key for us was being confident we could do well."
For Matchett, who will continue her rowing career at Notre Dame, it was her first victory at Stotesbury. Two years ago, the Horsham resident was part of the junior eight that gained a silver medal.
"It was a surreal experience to win here," Matchett said. "It's something special when all your hard work pays off and you're celebrating with your team at the end."
Because of high water and the large amount of debris caused by Friday's heavy rain, Stotesbury officials pushed back Saturday's start to 2 p.m. Semifinal heats were eliminated, with the top six finishers from the time trials going directly to the finals.
"We made the decision based on river conditions," Stotesbury director Clete Graham said. "The semifinalists were understandably disappointed, but the boats in the finals were appreciative of the opportunity to compete."
Mount's varsity eight was made up of, in order from coxswain, Megan Mirabella, Leah Ramos, Matchett, Maddy Carlton, Alaina Hunt, Maddy Lauinger, Maddie Lawn, Christina Knox, and Steph Eble.
"They can handle anything," Mount varsity eight coach Mike "Stubbs" McKenna said. "They've rowed in all sorts of conditions this year."
Earlier at Stotesbury, which featured 188 schools and 950 boats, Holy Spirit earned its fourth consecutive girls' lightweight eight title. With a time of 4:31.26, the Spartans nipped runner-up Merion Mercy (4:33.10).
"We had seven new kids in the boat this year, and they really came together and got the most out of their ability," Holy Spirit coach Rory Roberts said. "This means everything to us. Everything we do is for Stotesbury."
St. Joseph's Prep's lightweight eight and junior eight prevailed. The latter was a major surprise, with the boat qualifying Friday by only 0.29 seconds and then winning Saturday from the sixth lane. In 4:06.29, the Hawks nipped North Jersey's Don Bosco Prep (4:08.49).
"We had a very aggressive race plan, with a high stroke rate at the beginning," St. Joe's Prep junior eight coach Bob Madden said.
In the girls' senior quad, Conestoga, in the fourth lane, prevailed by almost six seconds. The Pioneers, guided by Paul Coomes, also won the girls' junior quad.
Holy Spirit (3:52.45) and Oakcrest (3:55.90) placed second and fourth, respectively, in the boys' varsity eight. Washington's Gonzaga was first in 3:48.91.