PALATINE HILL -- The 2017 rowing season will commence this weekend with the Hagg Lake Invitational and both the Lewis & Clark men and women are eager to get back to competition after a pair of fall regattas.
Sam Taylor returns for his 12th season as the program's head coach and brings back his entire coaching staff from a year ago. The team also added Madi Hyde, an All-Northwest Conference selection as a senior last year, as an assistant conditioning coach.
There are two seniors on the women's team this year, down from six in 2015-16, including All-NWC selections Katja Putzke and Hyde. The senior pair includes Natalie Anderson, who has made some significant technical changes during the fall, and Paige Sanders, who is expected to be one of the top athletes on the team this year.
The lion's share of the upperclassmen numbers come from the junior class. Natalie Cerda is setup for a breakout year as a junior and continues to make strides. Ryan LaVigne is a returning varsity eight rower and has already set new 5K and 2K erg records for the team. Also a returner, Ashley Garber is showing a high level of focus and has also made some big technical changes. Charlotte Copp came back from overseas study this past fall and immediately began preparation for the season. She'll be a solid rower for the team. Kendall Graham rowed several races in the second varsity eight a year ago and will be a player for the Pios again this year.
The sophomore class is the largest in numbers for Lewis & Clark this season. Liana Clary has proven to be a talented coxswain and has shown a positive effect on the team. Elly McClane should be a contender for the varsity eight this year. Already strong and with some new technical changes, Natalie Stroud came close to the team's 5K record this fall. Megan Glavin continues to develop more strength and has made some good changes, while Christine Guenin has had some enormous breakthroughs from her freshman to sophomore year. Similarly, Tess Lynam showed great progress in the fall and rowed in the varsity eight for the Pios. Gabriela Kalla of Poland is another strong rower who has made improvements technically. Camille Wong joined last spring and had to catch-up from those that began in the fall. She has shown strong potential, as has Erica Holland, who was in the second varsity during the fall. Anna Merkt is on the novice roster this year and has high potential.
The Pioneers have six freshmen listed on the roster entering the first competition of the spring. The group should provide Lewis & Clark some great potential on the novice side of things. Much like Merkt, Louise Jenson and Clare Shapiro have implemented winter workouts impressively. Ella Kaszti has worked hard and is focused, Grace Falkner brings in high school rowing experience and Mia Eichel has been aggressive and shows potential. Emma Celebreeze is a former gymnastics aerialist who will be coxing the second varsity.
Lucas Ehrhard was the only senior from last year's team that left following graduation, and four seniors are on the team's roster this year. Griffin Siadak and Andrew Cavanaugh have been the team's linchpins. The pair is looking to help the team improve their results at the big regattas and provide an excellent example for the rest of the team. Kaleb Anderson and Eric Slack return as well, with Anderson entering the spring season very fit and a co-captain.
Tyler Lebovic is a very dedicated junior returner, and Cooper Barton could be poised for a breakthrough after changing his physique following his running of a marathon late last year. Samuel Makikalli studied overseas last fall and returned focused. He should improve through recent technical breakthroughs.
Maggie Coit is the expected coxswain for the men's team. She provides the team tremendous leadership and has tons of experience. Owen Wohlforth is the only sophomore who will man an oar this year. He's a good athlete who continues to get stronger.
Daniel Marsan, Kyle Mezrahi and Noah Merz make up the freshman class. Marsan is experienced and is making some technical improvements, Mezrahi is young and has shown potential and Merz is a former mountain biker who is very talented and the sibling of his women's teammate Camille Merz, who is studying overseas this term.
The teams open competition this weekend at the Hagg Lake Invitational. Two weeks later, a trip to Seattle will put the Pios up against all sorts of competition at the Husky Open Regatta on Apr. 1.
Lewis & Clark will split sites the following two weekends. The women will compete at the Logger Invitational in Tacoma, Wash. on Apr. 8, while the men head south to the Covered Bridge Regatta in Lowell, Ore. on Apr. 15.
The spring season closes with the women at the Northwest Conference Championships and the men in a dual with Puget Sound in Vancouver, Wash. on Apr. 23 before both compete at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships the following week in Sacramento, Calif.