Merion Mercy makes semis

The Merion Mercy junior four with coxswain at Henley: (from right) stroke Amanda Lorei, Elissa Jensen, Emily Buongiorno, Sara Romano, and (nearly hidden) coxwain Maddie Ratfield.
The Merion Mercy junior four with coxswain at Henley: (from right) stroke Amanda Lorei, Elissa Jensen, Emily Buongiorno, Sara Romano, and (nearly hidden) coxwain Maddie Ratfield. (Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta)
Posted: June 19, 2011

Merion Mercy's junior four with coxswain, battling the strongest headwind it had faced all season, won two races Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the Henley Women's Regatta at Henley-on-Thames, England.

Baldwin, the only other area school in the international regatta, was ousted in both the junior double and junior quad competitions.

Merion Mercy won its opening race in the Groton School Challenge Cup by 13/4 boatlengths over St. Edward's School of England. The Golden Bears defeated another English boat, Headington School, by four lengths in the quarterfinals.

"It was pretty rocky," Merion coxswain Maddie Ratfield said of the conditions. "The wind kept blowing us over to the barrier a little bit."

Amanda Lorei, a senior bound for Stanford University who strokes the Merion boat, said the Golden Bears took the quarterfinal lead over "the first 20 strokes. We got out ahead and stayed ahead."

The Merion boat also includes Emily Buongiorno, Elissa Jensen, and Sara Romano.

Baldwin's junior double, competing for the Rayner Cup, defeated Marlow Rowing Club of England in the first round before falling by three lengths to Bristol City, also of England, in the quarterfinals.

The Baldwin junior quad, participating in the Bea Langridge Trophy bracket, lost its opening race by 21/2 lengths to the Headington School "B" boat.

In Sunday's semifinals, Merion Mercy will face a junior four from Northern Ireland with girls from two schools, Methody College and Portora. The final will be later Sunday.

Merion Mercy coach Mike Brown said Sunday's competition would be "an unbelievable challenge. The kids are focused, though. They know what's at stake."

The Merion girls are racing in a shell on loan from King's College in Wimbledon. The boat presented one problem: The shoes in the shell were broken and duct-taped into position.

The issue was resolved Saturday when the coach from Queen's University in Belfast provided new shoes to be installed.

"That's sort of the Merion program," said Brown, the team's coach since the program began in 2005. "We're just putting it together as we go along."

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