Under cloudy skies and a brisk wind severe enough to swamp boats and make aligning at the start look like something from “Victory at Sea,” the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association—FIRA—raced their annual State Championship Regatta. Three Stetson crews rowed hard and won gold.
The day started off with the women’s double of Caitlin Mooney and Callie Peacock winning a gold in the women’s double. Then about an hour later, freshman, Pricilla White rowed for a gold in the single. About an hour after that, the Women’s light four, defending state champions and national bronze medalists—Caitlin Burke, Christina Kapusta, Caitlin Mooney, Jacqueline Horbert and coxswain Kerry Burke won easily.
Pairs rowers, Shay Martin and Christy Ruane rowed a strong race moving from 4th to second in the hunt for a gold when a wave “out of nowhere, said senior Shay Martin, hit our boat.” The pair took 4th but is looking forward to the nationals.
On the men’s side of the team, the two pairs of Gary Mara and Mike Sigrist and Bill Brady and Taylor Heatherington had some rough water in the heats. Brady and Heatherington advanced to the finals and finished forth. These same men with Erin Lee coxing, combined to row the men’s varsity fours and finished 5th overall in a terrific showing against a 7 boat field seeded from 12 schools.
The novice women of Amanda Ponce, Nicky Caballero, Pricilla White, Alicja Dadua with Aiden Keller coxing. though winning their heat in the fours placed 4th in the finals, with the novice eight finishing forth also. In the eight-- Alicija Duda, Amanda Ponce, Nicky Caballero, Shannon McCarthy, Chloe Blackketter, Molly Winsten, Christine Ramos, Kiara Urena, with Aiden Keller coxing—“We were really excited to beat the University of Florida since they are such a large university,” says Kiara Urena.
The women’s varsity four of Christine Vogelgesang, Deonna Graham, Julia Pearce, Callie Peacock with Kerry Burke coxing against Florida State, Nova SE, Jacksonville and Rollins had similar white caps and deteriorating conditions. Callie Peacock says of her race, “the conditions were really tough but we rowed a solid race against great teams.”
Erin Lee , showing her versatility, left her normal seat of coxswain and joined Julia Pearce in the women’s doubles and came in through the rough water with a strong finish but out of the medals.
The regatta was rowed on the world class course at Benderson Park in Sarasota. The team travels next weekend to the United States Southeastern Regional Champions in Oakridge, Tenn. From there, the team will finish in May at the National Championships.