ZANESVILLE - Last Friday, chilly temperatures and periods of hard rain greeted more than 1,900 competitors from 12 states as they arrived for competition in the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Association Championship Regatta at Dillon Lake State Park, near Zanesville.
Over 500 crews raced on the newly installed 1500 meter course in heats and semifinals spaced seven minutes apart from 7:30 a.m. until 7:38 p.m. on Saturday and finals Sunday from 8 a.m. until nearly 2:30 p.m.
All 10 boats representing Marietta High School's girls and boys crews advanced from heats to semifinals, but strong rowing and determination were not quite enough to counter the other schools' larger numbers and bigger physical size as just two of Tiger Navy crew reached the final - the Joe Tewkesbury-coached girls novice eight and girls lightweight varsity eight.
The MHS boys varsity four rowed its best race of the season in placing fourth in its semifinal. The boys junior four missed advancing to the final by five seconds, finishing third in its semifinal, while the boys novice four rowed to a fifth place as did the lightweight four.
On the MHS girls side, in spite of having to change the boating lineup because of illness, the novice eight advanced from the heats through the semifinal to finish fifth in the grand final following an unbeaten regular season.
The Marietta lightweight varsity eight, fighting injuries to two of the rowers, raced to the lead early in its event but battling building headwinds crossed the line for a bronze medal behind Rockford and St. Joseph's Academy.
The lights had finished the regular season with an undefeated record as well.
The luck of the draw saw the Marietta girls lightweight four miss the finals out of its semifinal that would have seen it advance in the other.
A late lineup change also hurt the novice four as it raced to a fourth place in their semi.
The MHS junior eight, facing much bigger and more experienced crews, went to the semifinals as a No. 7 seed of 17 and rowed to a fifth place. The junior four, rowing to 11th of 29 in the heats, placed fifth in its semifinal.
The Midwest Championship Regatta was operated by a committee of volunteers and parents from five schools (Marietta, Parkersburg South, Parkersburg, North Catholic, and Upper Arlington) for the first time in what was one of the largest MSRA regattas in 29 years. The last race went off on time. Next year's championship will return to Dillon State Park on the second weekend in May.