Staying Connected Without Boats

Four boats medal in Wyandotte

11/15/2007 00:00


Four boats medal at regatta

Hornets win five medals in 11 events in season's final regatta

By Brian Cox, Staff Writer

PUBLISHED: November 15, 2007

The Saline crew team may have saved its best for last, taking home five medals in 11 events at the Heritage River Fall Classic Regatta in Wyandotte Nov. 4.


"We're very happy with the results," said men's coach David Fiske. "My coxswains were incredible. They steered great courses."

Saline's fearsome lightweight four of Sean Connors, Matt Smolinski, John Recknagel, Jeff Hartman and cox Fraser Christie placed first with a time of 16:58.54, racing for their best time of the season.

"It wasn't even a contest," said Fiske, who two weeks ago added Smolinski to the crew, which, he said, "made a big difference.

"They've gotten better and better with him in."

Smolinski was also part of the crew that took first place in the varsity four with a time of 16:46.07, beating out Ann Arbor Pioneer by almost 30 seconds for the gold.

"We've been chasing Pioneer all season," Fiske said. "We just stomped them. Our guys were just smoking down the water."

Stroking with Smolinski were his twin brother, David Smolinski, Jeff Wilcox and John Wright.

The win over Pioneer, last year's state champs, was huge, Fiske said.

"I think it marks us as a legitimate program," he said. "I didn't think we'd catch them so quickly. For the first time, I think everyone knows who Saline is."

The open pair of sophomores Andy Michaluk and Neil Pettit took silver with a time of 21:55, even after getting tangled in a snag under a bridge.

In the Men's Open Four, Michaluk and Pettit joined juniors Sterling Hargrove and John Recknagel to achieve a time of 18:07:03, which was good enough for a third-place finish behind two crews from the University of Michigan.

"It was pretty impressive," Fiske said. "I thought they might do pretty well, but I didn't expect them to medal."

Another surprise came from the women's lightweight eight, made up of four novices and four second-year rowers, which earned a silver medal, coming in only four seconds behind Pioneer with a time of 20:07.92.

"They were battling (Pioneer) the whole way," said coach Bridgette Sparks. "They were under pressure the whole time, and I imagine they learned a lot about racing."

Wyandotte was the last regatta of the fall, but the spring season is right around the corner, and Fiske had planned on starting preparing in January.

"I have kids knocking on my door wanting to get going," he said.

Fiske now plans to invite crew members to participate in a Christmas challenge that will push them to row 200,000 meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas - or about 45 minutes a day for 20 days.

"It's not easy," he said.