Staying Connected Without Boats

Saline boat sixth in nation

05/29/2008 14:02


Saline boat sixth in nation

Lightweight four survives semifinals; state meet canceled

By Brian Cox, Staff Writer

PUBLISHED: May 29, 2008

Saline crew coach Dave Fiske said his lightweight four boat would face tough competition at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America's National Scholastic Championships held in Oak Ridge, Tenn., over Memorial Day weekend.

He wasn't exaggerating.

The lightweight four of Jeff Hartman, Matt Smolinski, Sean Connors, John Recknagel, and coxswain Fraser Christie had their work cut out for them just to make the finals.

In a nip-and-tuck finish in the qualifying heat on Friday, the Hornets took second with a time of 5:17.1, only seven-tenths of a second behind first-place Episcopal (5:16.4) and just ahead of third-place McQuaid Jesuit (5:17.8).

The top three finishers advanced Saturday to the semifinals, where Saline again placed second, this time in 5:18.0, just off Lower Merion's 5:16.7. Lower Merion last year took silver at the event. The Hornets eked past Bonner, which last year placed fifth in the finals, by seven-tenths of a second.

If Fiske hadn't convinced the Saline boat how tight the competition would be, the first two heats certainly did.

In the finals, Saline came up short of a medal by less than five seconds, placing sixth out of six boats. The Hornets put in a time of 4:56.2. Bonner, who the Hornets had beat in the semis, placed second with a time of 4:45.5.

The first-place finish went to E.L. Crossley (4:43.4), a boat that is poised to win the Triple Crown of high school rowing with a win this weekend at the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association championships. Earlier this month, the E.L. Crossley boat took first at the Stotesbury Cup in Philadelphia.

The Saline lightweight four was favored to win the crew team's first state title May 17 before heading off to the national championships, but the inaugural Scholastic Rowing Association of Michigan's state championships on Kent Lake in Kensington MetroPark were canceled because of high winds and fast-moving storms.

The boat qualified for nationals by placing first at the Midwest Rowing Championship in Cincinnati earlier this month.

The lightweight four was the only Saline boat to make the regional finals, but three others came close, including the men's lightweight eight, which was only four-tenths of a second short of advancing. Appropriately enough, the lightweight eight team was made up of the lightweight four squad (Hartman, Connors, Smolinski, Recknagel, and coxswain Christie) and rowers Jack Norgren, Ben Summers, Parry Ragland, and Max Plona.

Staff Writer Brian Cox can be reached at 429-7380 or