Knecht Cup



Kingston, RI

This weekend, forty-five athletes traveled to New Jersey for the Knecht Cup Regatta on Mercer Lake.  The team had entries in the Women’s 1x, Novice 4+, Club 4+, and Club 8+, as well as the Men’s 1x, Varsity 4+, 2V4+, Club 4+, Novice 8+, Club 8+, 2V8+, and Varsity 8+.

Since I have been a member on this team, the first day of the Knecht Cup has been unpleasant to say the least. Plagued by high winds, cold temperatures, and rain, I have been dreading this regatta all year. That was until we arrived at the race course on Saturday morning and it was 80 degrees with clear skies. There was a stiff cross wind but it was the best racing weather the team had seen in a while.

The day was kicked off by the Women’s Novice 4+. Cece Root, Katie Moran, Jess Askew, and Jenna Tolin, combined with coxswain Mary Kehrli, took to Mercer Lake for their first race of the season. With twelve entries and only seven boats moving on, the ladies nabbed the seventh spot in the Grand Final as a time qualifier, just beating out MIT, with their time of 8 minutes 42.18 seconds.

Women’s Novice 4+ happy to move on to the final

The next URI boat to take the course was the Men’s Club 8+ of Ian Wyllie, Matt Susi, Brendan Maymon, Noah Key, JP Monteverdi, Cameron LaFreniere, Owen Ruote, and Dominic Campione. A boat with seven novice rowers, the crews time of 6 minutes 33.73 seconds, easily got them into the seven boat final with a third place finish in their heat. They would be seeded fourth going into the final with only 1 second separating them from Villanova and George Mason.

Men’s Club 8+ working through their heat to grab a spot in the final

Our second Women’s entry of the day came in the Club 4+.  Like our other women’s 4+, this boat was made up entirely of novice girls who were experiencing their first race. Jillian Cidras, Sophie Vicedomine, Jenna Taormina, Liz Mayer, and coxswain Mary Kehrli fought to a hard fourth place finish in their heat, to all varsity level crews, with a time of 8 minutes 49.78 seconds. Unfortunately their time missed qualifying for the Grand Final by one spot and the girls would not be moving on but we’re scheduled to race again in the Women’s Club 8+.

Women’s Club 4+ coming past the cheering section in their heat (from stroke: Jillian Cidras, Sophie Vicedomine, Jenna Taormina, Liz Mayer, Mary Kehrli)

The Men’s Club 4+ was the next race down the course. Only practicing in this boat a couple of times this week, Nick Soucy, John Searles, Adam Saluccio, Dom Campione and coxswain Rachel Loffredo, grabbed a time qualifier in a nail biter finish with UNH. Head to head most of the way, the crew managed to hold off New Hampshire by .91 seconds with a time of 7 minutes 20.30 seconds. This was the third fastest time out of the heats, giving them decent lane draw for the final.

Men’s Club 4+ of Soucy, Searles, Saluccio, and Campione

These four crews were supposed to be the only boats racing for URI on Saturday but due to a bad weather forecast for Sunday, there was a schedule change, and all events, with the exception of the Men’s and Women’s First and Second Varsity Eights, were moved to Saturday afternoon. For the beginning of the afternoon the wind had switched to a cross tail from the starboard side.

Kelly Rothenberger was the first Ram to hit the water after the revised schedule in the Women’s 1x. The last time she raced the single was at the Head of the Fish in October. Rothenberger earned a bronze medal with her time of 9 minutes 10.36 seconds. This was a good test of form as she is preparing to race this boat class at the ACRA Championships in May. Last year she placed 5th in Georgia.

Rothenberger in her first race of the spring season headed for bronze

Shortly after, in what Coach Bob Gillette would call the event of the day, the Heavyweight 4+ of Colin Moulton, Carl Neff, Grady Bolan, Steve O’Brien and coxswain Max Fullmer were going head to head against the Lightweight 4+ of Joe Martinez, James Malebranche, John Mannion, Matt Leal and coxswain Sydney Pellerin. After a schedule changed caused the lightweight event to be merged with the heavyweight event, the two boats were finally going to have the chance to settle who would win in a race. Being final only, there were no second chances so it was going to be very competitive. Both crews leaping out in front from the start, they traded the lead from start to finish with George Mason in tow. Coming down to the sprint, the lightweights prevailed with a 6:49.24 to the heavyweight’s 6:50.83. All eight rowers in these two 4+’s make up the Varsity 8+.

Tense warmup as bragging rights were on the line

The next final to race was the Women’s Novice 4+ Grand Final. The women were the seventh seed going into the final but exceeded expectations when they finished fifth with a time of 8 minutes 37.04 seconds. In their second race of the day they held their own against tough crews from BU, Harvard, Jefferson, Carnegie Melon, Duquesne, and Manhattan.

Women’s Novice 4+ all smiles after a successful first race (from left: Jenna Tolin, Cece Root, Katie Moran, Jess Askew)

Like the Varsity 4+, the Men’s Second Varsity 4+ was final only. Nick Soucy, John Searles, Dante Procopio, Will Bernard and coxswain Rachel Loffredo, fought it out with crews from Bowdin, George Mason, UConn and Franklin&Marshall and earned a bronze medal with a 7:19.66. With the crews from Bowdin (2nd) and UConn (5th) being from New England, this is a matchup we may see later in the season.

Men’s 2v4+ just about to enter the last 500m

Immediately after the finish of the 2V4+, Soucy and Searles had to go back down to the start with Saluccio and Campione for the Club 4+ final.  For Searles, Soucy, and Campione it was their third race of the day. In a hard fought battle with a progressing headwind the crew finished fourth in a time of 7 minutes 26.57 seconds. And it was a quick row back to the dock after the finish as Campione had one more race to go with the Club 8+ final.

Men’s Club 4+ pulling away from UConn

In the Club 8+ final, the boat with seven novice faced off against full varsity crews from George Mason, Pitt, and Villanova. Being novice had no effect on the way these men raced as they went out with the top crews from the start and were in contact the whole way. Coming by the cheering area, it was only a four boat battle as they had separated from places 5-7. The crew was just beat out for a medal in the sprint by what is believed to be Villanova’s 1V. The crews time was 6 minutes 31.50 seconds.

Men’s Club 8+ (far lane) not afraid to go head to head with experienced crews

Our Women’s Club 8+ was the Novice and Club 4+’s combined. Racing against very experienced crews and on tired legs, the women pulled through the line to a time of 8 minutes 14.79 seconds. Although they did not finish in the medals, this first race for all these women provided much needed experience that will undoubtedley help them be faster later in the season.

One last time down the racecourse for our women rowers

Our top performance of the day goes to the Men’s Novice 8+. Never having raced together as a boat and racing crews from Penn State, USMMA, Villanova, Pitt, and Carnegie Melon, these men were just trying to get into the medals. But they did much more than that. Over stroking the other crews at the start, the crew got out to an early lead and never looked back as they worked through a now progressing headwind. Slowly increasing their lead on second place Pittsburgh they were stern to bow at the 1500m buoy. Never easing up on the pressure, the men gained open water in the last 500m to win the event by a total 7.42 seconds. Credit can not only be given to the athletes though, as assistant coaches Andy Caswell and Charlie Boyle (‘14) were tasked with getting this boat race ready. A huge congratulations on a well deserved win to a hardworking group of individuals.

Gold Medal Mens Novice 8+ (from left: Coach Andy Caswell, Emily Tennett, Aaron Wood, Kyle Higgins, Thomas Gmoser, Jamie Mernick, Nick Petrich, Pat Angarola, Andrew Lefebvre, and Evan Debassio)

In our final event of the day, Joe Martinez took to the lake for the Men’s 1x. Only rowing the single once this week, Coach Bob trusted Martinez’s experience to take him to the finish line. Martinez won gold in his flight unchallenged as his time of 7 minutes 58.99 seconds defeated the next closest competitor by 42.43 seconds.

Martinez with a lot of open water in the Mens 1x

Unfortunately for the Sunday racing, the weather did not hold up and the Men’s Varsity and Second Varsity 8’s never got a chance to race.

Overall this was a very successful weekend. Our women got to race for the first time and held their own against some much bigger programs, six boats earned medals in five events, and we had almost all crews qualify for Grand Finals. The team is excited for what the rest of the season has in store as there is always room to get faster. Our next race(s) will be next Saturday and Sunday as the team will have some boats racing at the Riverhawk Challenge hosted by UMass Lowell, and some boats racing against WPI in Worcester.

Go Rhody!



Date Season
April 14, 2018 2017-2018


Mercer Lake
334 S Post Rd, West Windsor Township, NJ 08550, USA