The senior class at the Saugatuck Rowing Club holds a special attachment for coach Sharon Kriz. It is the first group to spend all four years with her, and most of them will continue their rowing careers in college.
"It's been fun to guide them along the way,'' Kriz said at the club's Westport facility. "They're kind of like my first class, really. A lot of them were here in eighth grade when I started. It's nice to see them succeed."
Some of them will be headed to Ivy League schools, which are also nationally ranked in rowing. Max Meyer-Bosse (Harvard), Graham Anderson (Columbia), Susan Greenberg (University of Pennsylvania) and Griffin Traynor (Brown) will head to established national powers. Nicoline Lomas (University of Massachusetts) as well as Max Malec and Samantha Smolka (both Georgetown) will also join rowing powers. Other Saugatuck rowers will attend Division II or Division III schools, and some will join the military.
"The majority of them are going to keep rowing,'' Kriz said. "I think they're all looking forward to going to the next level."
Under Kriz's guidance, the seniors have helped elevate Saugatuck to national prominence on the U.S. rowing scene. Meyer-Bosse and Anderson won the Men's Youth 2x Grand Final at last year's U.S. championship meet. The club finished second and fourth in the Women's Youth 4x, the first time one team has sent two boats to the Grand Finals. Saugatuck sent an astounding 33 rowers to last year's U.S. championships. Four Saugatuck rowers competed in the world championships last August.
"This group has helped us build the program to what it is,'' Kriz said. "They've done a good job of showing the younger rowers what it means to be committed to it, and the work that's involved."
Kriz is also proud that most of the athletes want to continue in college. "They want to row year-round,'' she said. "I don't want them to put so much into it that they don't want to do it in college. Burnout is something that's on my mind all the time. I've seen that happen. I want to make sure the rowers who come from me in college don't do that."
The seniors have just started their final season of rowing for Saugatuck. It will be over in two short months. As the kids get ready to embark on their new careers, Kriz will recall this cast as the rowers who helped build a strong foundation. "I don't know if it has hit me yet,'' she said. "I have the kids coming up behind them, and that's exciting. This group set a great example for the younger kids."
Picture: Saugatuck seniors competing their final season for the club include: Front, from left: Brian Clark (Holy Cross), Jeremy Rubel (Amherst), Nicoline Lomas (UMass), Isabel Feldman (UMass), Susan Greenberg (Penn), Georgia Pinter (Syracuse) and Samantha Smolka (Georgetown). Back, fro left: Nick Bortells (Auburn), Mitch Wolfe (Marine Corps), Graham Anderson (Columbia), Max Meyer-Bosse (Harvard), Alex Vogt (George Washington), Max Malec (Georgetown) and Griffin Traynor (Brown).
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