Rowing Hosts SSC Championships Friday

Rowing Hosts SSC Championships Friday
Barry will row for an SSC Championship Friday morning in Sarasota. Photo by Joel Auerbach

SARASOTA, Fla. – Week after week, Barry University’s rowing crew has continually put itself on the map. Another opportunity awaits Friday when the No. 1-ranked Buccaneers host the Sunshine State Conference Championships regatta at Nathan Benderson Park.

“We’re all looking forward to this race,” Barry assistant coach Boban Rankovic said. “So far we’ve been successful, and we’re looking forward to continue that in Sarasota.”

Racing begins with an exhibition for the second and third boats at 8:45 a.m. The Varsity 4+ championship race is set for 9 a.m., while the Varsity 8+ takes center stage at 9:15 a.m. The overall SSC championship crew, 4 and 8 winners, along with the All-SSC Team will be recognized in an awards ceremony at 10 a.m.

“We are racing really well together,” said Barry sophomore Kasia Walentynowicz, who serves as the stroke in the 4. “We are confident of each other. We want to make our boat faster. We are really focused to work on everything, our technique.

“The most important thing is to make everything with what you have. We are small and not very powerful, but we can use our technique to be more dynamic to beat larger crews.”

Walentynowicz joins coxswain Angela Dasch, Mandy Carper, Helene Pierre and bow Rebekah Kilroy in the 4 that is coming off a championship at the Knecht Cup two weekends ago. Barry’s 4 has won nine of 10 races, albeit different personnel in different events, throughout the season.

“We do have more depth with this team,” Rankovic said. “With that, the kids we have, I feel very lucky to coach them. Besides the classroom, where they’re very good students, they’re also true racers."

Barry’s 8 of cox Gracie Horwitz, stroke Kristina Boncheva, Anna Boada, Rosita Boncheva, Monika Kaminska, Beth Desmond, Anais Foppoli, Emma Howard and bow Kelly Harrison has been named SSC Boat of the Week after each of the five racing weekends they’ve been on the water this year. The Bucs’ 8 is also coming off a championship at the Knecht Cup, and has won 10 of the 11 races it has competed in this year, with only one personnel change during the season.

“Our 4, we have to make up some of things," Walentynowicz said. "We are really into it, all of us. There’s never a time when someone is lazy and not pushing. We fight, and we never give up.”

That’s been the modus operandi of this Bucs crew. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just as has been the case at every regatta, the SSC Championships is no exception. The Buccaneers’ drive to succeed has grown increasingly throughout the past two weeks since they left New Jersey with first-place finishes at the prestigious Knecht Cup, which featured NCAA Division I schools that Barry held its own against.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Rankovic said. “Their spirits are up. The practices have been great."

Much of the character of this year’s team, and the commitment to succeed originates from the senior leadership of Horwitz, Harrison and Pierre.

“Our seniors have been a tremendous part of the cohesiveness of this team and speed increase by pushing themselves and wanting more,” Rankovic said. “They influence other athletes around them to want the same. Ultimately, this is their last year, and they’re wanting more.”

The SSC Championships give the Bucs the opportunity to perform. That's all the coaching staff, which includes six-year head coach Dave Sanderson and assistant coach Nick Goode, can ask for.

“Our technique has improved,” Walentynowicz said. “We will fight, of course. Last year we were losing a lot of our races, and this year we are winning, so we are really confident. We go into every race, not knowing for sure that we are going to win because we have to respect our opponents."


Direction to the regatta island from the NORTH:
. From I-75 take University Parkway, Exit 213
. Drive WEST on University Parkway approx. 0.3 miles
. Turn SOUTH (left) onto North Cattlemen Road (traffic light)
. Drive approx 0.5 miles, following signs and pass thru 3 traffic circles
. Continue SOUTH on North Cattlemen Road to the regatta island
. Rowing facility will be on your right
. Follow Parking Staff instructions

Direction to the regatta island from the SOUTH:
. From I-75 take Fruitville Road, Exit 210
. Drive WEST on Fruitville Road. approx. 0.2 miles
. Turn NORTH (right) on North Cattlemen Road (traffic light)
. Drive approx 2.2 miles to the regatta island
. Rowing facility will be on your left
. Follow Parking Staff instructions