PNRA/Mercer Rowers Win Bids to USRowing Youth National Championships

May 9, 2016

West Windsor, NJ – The Princeton National Rowing Association’s Mercer Rowing Club had a successful Mid-Atlantic Youth Championships this past weekend, May 7 and 8. The team earned four bids to the 2016 USRowing Youth National Championships which will be held on Mercer Lake, June 10-12, 2016. In total the Mercer Juniors rowers brought home medals in 6 events with every varsity girl who rowed in the regatta bringing home a medal in addition to the Boy Varsity 8 with coxswain winning medals.

Hosted by PNRA, the Mid-Atlantic Youth Championships featured 363 crews from 48 clubs and schools based in five states and the District of Columbia. It is one of twelve USRowing regional qualifying regattas held this month leading up to the national championship regatta for high school aged crews.

Mercer Boys 8 with coxswain Mid-Atlantic Youth Championships
Mercer Junior Boys Varsity 8+ – Kevin Borup, Jack Gallagher, Dan Stoddard, Grant Barthelmes, Sarah Brune (coxswain), Carter Levine, John Tanguay, Jason Fleurial, Andrew Hickey

The sport of rowing is known for both intense competition and camaraderie. Both of these characteristics were on display when the PNRA/Mercer varsity boys met Gonzaga College High School in the final of the Men’s Youth 8 plus Coxswain event. PNRA/Mercer program director and boys’ varsity coach, Justin Ochal, and Gonzaga Head Coach, Marc Mandel, have developed a friendship based on mutual respect for each other’s coaching abilities. The teams began their spring competition season with a scrimmage on Carnegie Lake in early April. Ochal invited Mandel to bring his team for the scrimmage and stay in the homes of Mercer athletes.

“Racing some fast boats that we will be seeing again in June really helps us out,” said senior co-captain John Tanguay (Hopewell Valley High School). “Familiarizing ourselves with what it will be like in high intensity race situations works to our benefit. We now know to do nothing in moderation, so chipping away some seconds [from our 2,000 meter race time] in the next five weeks is going to be grueling. However, we have the drive to do it,” he adds.

Gonzaga placed first with a time of 6:09.4 and PNRA/Mercer placed second with a time of 6:13.8 in the final so both crews earned bids to the USRowing Youth National Championship Regatta on Mercer Lake in June, where they may match up again. In addition to Tanguay, the PNRA/Mercer crew included junior Andrew Hickey (Notre Dame High School), senior Jason Fleurial and junior Carter Levine (both from Princeton High School), junior Grant Barthelmes (Ranney School), junior Daniel Stoddard (West Windsor Plainsboro High School South), freshman Jack Gallagher (Council Rock High School North), senior co-captain Kevin Borup (South Brunswick High School) and junior coxswain Sarah Brune (Lanoka Harbor, NJ).

The PNRA/Mercer varsity girls won bids to the USRowing Youth National Championship Regatta for the Women’s Youth 8 plus Coxswain event, the women’s youth lightweight 8 plus Coxswain event, and the women’s lightweight 4 plus Coxswain event. PNRA/Mercer has had past success at the championship regatta, winning a silver medal in the Women’s Youth 8 plus Coxswain event and a bronze medal in the Women’s Youth Lightweight 8 plus Coxswain event in 2015.

“We are looking forward to training hard over the next month for Youth Nationals where we know we will meet some intense competition,” says senior captain Kate Hickey (Notre Dame High School). In addition to Hickey, the crew competing in the Women’s Youth 8 plus Coxswain event included sophomore Sara Hansen (West Windsor Plainsboro High School South), Caitlin Cleary (Princeton High School), junior Katie Lustig (Council Rock North), sophomore Mia Barkenbush (West Windsor Plainsboro High School South), junior Laila Shehab (Hopewell Valley High), senior Eileen Hu (West Windsor Plainsboro High School South), sophomore Bridget Parker (Princeton High School), senior Rachel Mumau (Millstone Township) and senior coxswain Colleen Gillis (Freehold Township High School). The girls are coached by Steve Baranoski in his first year with PNRA/Mercer.

Winning bids in two lightweight events was no easy task for the PNRA/Mercer girls. Four lightweight rowers and a coxswain accomplished the physically grueling assignment of competing in two events taking place only twenty minutes apart at the Mid-Atlantic Youth Championship. Junior Sheila Kennedy-Moore (Princeton High School), senior Eileen Hu (West Windsor Plainsboro High School South), senior Elise Gorberg (West Windsor Plainsboro High School North), junior Lauren Miller (Steinert High School), and senior coxswain Sydney Holgado (Robbinsville High School) competed first in the Women’s Youth Lightweight 8 plus Coxswain event and then the Women’s Youth Lightweight 4 plus Coxswain event. The other members of the lightweight 8 crew were senior Kathryn Miller (Steinert High School), senior Jenna Kugel (Montgomery High School), freshman Jacqueline Armetta (Villa Joseph Marie High School), and Catherine Vinch-Buck (The Pennington School).

The Mercer Girls also won a gold medal in the 2nd Varsity 4 with coxswain and both gold and bronze medals in the 2nd Varsity 8 with coxswain.  The 2nd Varsity events are not raced at the Youth National Championships.  Rowing in the 2nd Varsity 4 were Olivia Herman (Pennsbury High School), Jacqueline Armetta (Villa Joseph Marie High School), Catherine Vinch-Buck(Pennington School), Gwyneth Lavery (Lawrence High School) and Isabel Roemer (Princeton High School).  Competing in the gold medal 2nd Varsity 8 with coxswain were Caroline Galati (West Windsor Plainsboro South), Gwyneth Lavery (Lawrence High School), Jenna Kugel (Montgomery High School), Kieran Wild ((Council Rock High School North), Isabel Roemer (Princeton High School), Sarah Closser (Princeton High School), Ciara DeVenuto-Wyeth (Pennsbury High School), Kathryn Miller (Steinert High School) and Glorianna Perrotte (Monroe Township High School).   Earning a bronze medal in the 2nd Varsity 8 with coxswain were Lauren Preston (Notre Dame High School), Julia Berdzik (Notre Dame High School), Madeline Muni (West Windsor Plainsboro South), Erin Muni (Grover School), Peri Mishkin (Allentown High School), Caroline Gibson (Princeton High School), Elizabeth Both (New Hope Solebury), Grace Wonnell (West Windsor Plainsboro), Maheera Bawa (Montgomery High School).

About the Princeton National Rowing Association 

The Princeton National Rowing Association, a 501(c)3 organization, operates the Finn M.W. Caspersen Rowing Center located on the shores of Mercer Lake, Mercer County Park in West Windsor, New Jersey.  The Princeton National Rowing Association is dedicated to operating a world-class training site for our nation’s elite athletes, providing opportunities for area youth to excel in the sport of rowing and to expand rowing in the area through community-based programs.  PNRA runs the Mercer Junior Rowing Program which provides rowing opportunities for youth from over 30 area schools and the Mercer Masters Rowing Program which provides rowing opportunities for adults.  The center is a home to the USRowing National and Olympic Teams, as well as rowing clubs and schools. PNRA received generous support from Killarney’s Publick House, JLRacing, Bai, Holiday Inn and Residence Inn by Marriott.

For more information, contact Kristopher Grudt, tel: 609-977-1094, or visit