To most students at UR, the Genesee River provides little more than a scenic backdrop, the occasional butt of jokes, and the namesake for a certain liquid canned and sold in stores around Rochester.

For the members of the crew team, however, those hardy mariners who brave early morning practices year round only to face ice, frostbite, and floating industrial waste, the Genesee is a shrine to the vigor, sacrifice, and comradeship that defines UR Crew.

The Stonehurst Regatta, hosted jointly by UR and the Rochester Institute of Technology each year during Meliora Weekend, was a moment of triumph for both the men’s and women’s squads, with the women taking the gold in the Women’s Lightweight-8 event and the Men’s Varsity-8 placing fifth, comfortably ahead of rival RIT and recording a time faster than Ivy League dominator Brown University in the sprint event.

“I think throughout the day, my teammates and I still were in disbelief about our first place standing,” recounted an emotional Amy Huang, one of the rowers in the Women’s Lightweight-8 race.

“And then, after the afternoon sprints when we were told to proceed to the awards dock because we’d just won, most of us were in shock and had tears in our eyes. It was absolutely thrilling to hear the crowds cheering for us during the race and then on the awards dock.”

Adding to the thrill of the victory was the fact that the women’s team had not won an event at Stonehurst since 1991 and the gold this weekend was the first medal for any of the rowers in the boat for an eight person competition.

Spirits were high as the wet and windy weather broke on Saturday to provide perfect regatta conditions.

The Stonehurst Regatta, consisting of a 3.1-mile head race in the morning and a one-mile sprint event in the afternoon, is unique in the crew world as it is the only regatta to incorporate both a head race and a sprint into a single event.

Crew regattas usually consist of both men’s and women’s head races split into four-person and eight- person events. In addition to the Varsity races are Youth races designed for less experienced rowers.

The Women’s Lightweight-8 consisted of Brooke Stevinson, Chrisna Govin, Lindsay Morgan, Amy Huang, Jasmine Behrend and Rachael Israelson in the rowing positions with Lisa Saladino at the bow, Kristen Nicholson at stroke and Adam Rosenberg as coxswain.

From the start, the squad pulled right to the head of the competiton, passing area rival Ithaca College shortly into the race.

“A few minutes into the head race, when our coxswain told us that we were passing Ithaca’s boat, it was unbelievable and totally empowered the boat,” Huang said.

Finishing first, the crew beat their closest competitor and last year’s Stonehurst winner, Queens College of Kingston, Ontario, by over 50 seconds. Defending national champions Harvard-Radcliffe swept both the women’s and men’s Heavyweight-8 races.

The men’s team did not fare as well as the women in the head race but managed to pull things together during the last two miles to go into the sprints looking strong.

Paired with McGill University for the 1,500-meter sprint, the team performed strongly, finishing behind Marietta College, Hobart University, Colgate University and Brock University but ahead of rivals RIT and Ithaca.

Both men’s and women’s crew were confident approaching the Stonehurst Regatta due to their impressive performance the previous week at the Head of the Ohio Regatta, a 2.8 mile course held on the Ohio River in Pittsburgh.

The men’s four person squad of Whitney Barnebey, Mark Koenig, David Herman, Philip Brune and coxswain Rachel Greenstein, won the gold medal, braving a rainstorm and surpassing 24 other crew teams from across the eastern United States with a time of 14:56, four seconds ahead of second place finisher Carnegie Mellon.

In the afternoon the Men’s Open-8 finished sixth in the more competitive division consisting of Cornell, Pennslyvania Athletic Club Rowing Association, Marietta College, and the University of Dayton. The women had a successful outing as well, placing third in the Women’s Lightweight-4.

Critical to the success of crew this season has been the efforts of first year coach Will Greene, former UR rower and class of ’88 graduate.

Returning to the basics of fitness and technical skill, Greene has seen his club make tremendous strides.

“The team has been very receptive to a revamped training program and an increased focus on their technical skills,” Greene said. “The team is fitter than last year and their mental focus has improved a great deal.”

Members of the men’s and women’s crew team agree that the arrival of Greene and his assistants have been a tremendous boon for the UR crew program.

“It’s been a fantastic start to the season,” women’s captain Lindsay Morgan said. The first two races of the season and we’ve already had two medaling boats for the women’s team.”

Sharing Morgan’s enthusiasm is men’s captain Whitney Barnebay.

“This could be one of our best seasons in a number of years, I’m really excited by our results so far and our possibilities for the rest of the year,” he said.

In any event, it appears as if the hard work and determination of the crew team is starting to pay off, and in any case, anybody who braves the Genesee has earned respect.

Additional reporting by Karen Taylor. Schloss can be reached at

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