Happy Homecoming For The Hawklets St. Joseph's Prep's Varsity Eight Returned Yesterday After A Triumph At The Henley Royal Regatta.

Posted: July 04, 2000

Tired but triumphant, rowers from St. Joseph's Prep returned to a hero's welcome yesterday, one day after winning the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta.

About 40 friends and family members were on hand in the school courtyard at 17th and Girard to greet the Hawklets, whose varsity eight defeated the Groton (Mass.) School by 13/4 lengths Sunday to win the championship in Henley-on-Thames, England.

Warm applause welcomed the senior-dominated team as it stepped from a cruiser bus on a steamy summer afternoon. The St. Joseph's traveling party landed at the Newark (N.J.) airport shortly after noon.

"The whole last week, especially the last couple of days, has been exhausting," coxswain Andy Kelly said. "Being prepared mentally and physically for each race takes so much out of you.

"We're still on a high. But this . . . I mean this makes you feel like a celebrity."

The Prep won four races, each more difficult than the one before, in four days to prevail in what is widely considered one of the world's most prestigious crew races.

The Henley victory ended a stellar season of top-caliber racing for St. Joseph's. The Hawklets previously had captured Catholic League, city, Stotesbury and national scholastic championships.

In the process, team members said they forged a bond they believed would last a lifetime.

"What I'm afraid of now is that I'll never be able to do something like this again," said Marty Reape, who sat in the Prep's No. 5 seat. "It was a tremendous experience to be a part of that with this group of guys.

"We've been through a lot together. Last year, we lost at Henley. This year, we came through. It's an unbelievable feeling."

Joining Kelly and Reape in the Prep boat were John Wachter (stroke), Patrick McMahon (2 seat), Mark Mannion (3), Tim Rigler (4), Anselm Sauter (6), Ryan Broderick (7) and Greg Cobb (bow).

The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup remained in England but is available to the school for display.

Even without the 21/2-foot silver trophy in hand, Sauter said he returned from the 14-day excursion with something equally valuable.

His memories.

"Just when you think it couldn't get any better, you have something like this, and it does get better," Sauter said. "Thirty years from now, I know I'll be able to get together with these guys, and we'll still be friends. And we'll still talk about winning Henley."

Jay Nagle's e-mail address is jnagle@phillynews.com

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