2017 will be remembered fondly as another boom year for High Point Rowing Club. We hosted the inaugural North Carolina State Championships, won our first regional youth title and witnessed our rowers in finals at national championships for the first time.
Club Founder Gene Kininmonth says from start to finish there were many wonderful moments this past year. “Since the formation of the club in 2012, each year at this time I actually worry about how we can improve things even more in the new year. Thanks to our amazing rowers and their families we continue to see new high water marks.”
We kicked off the year in Virginia with the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints where Junior Ognovich, Molly Hilemn and Matthew Hronich each won medals in their age class.
Our youth and masters were then out in force in late February for the High Point hosted annual 124C Erg Sprints in Jamestown. This annual indoor rowing event continues to attract rowers from across the region.
Following 124C’s our rowers were ready to once again put their erging abilities to good use, this time for the annual Ergathon. This important fundraising campaign saw our rowers and Greensboro Crew divided into three groups to race 100 kilometers. The club’s rowers and families raised well over $20,000 to fund upgrades to the fleet of boats and equipment.
In early March the crews were eager to return to the water and it wasn’t long before we hosted the US Naval Academy women’s rowing program at Oak Hollow Lake for that team’s spring break training. Navy feel right at home in High Point – so much so that this year they invited Army to race them right here on our home waters of Oak Hollow Lake in a historic first ever duel. The inaugural Army – Navy Boat Race was held at Festival Park with Navy sweeping the regatta.
While returning to the water was a refreshing change for the rowers it wasn’t without challenges for the ranks of our coaches, who were now challenged with also staffing the new team of Greensboro Crew rowers at Lake Brandt. With head coach Gene Kininmonth dividing his time between the two cities each week, a huge responsibility was placed on the High Point youth varsity rowers to step up and maintain standards whilst not under his watchful eye.
“The irony is that most of our rowers performed better when left alone,” says Gene looking back. “They took ownership of the process and this led to even greater success for them.”
High Point Hosts Inaugural North Carolina State Youth Championships
Our volunteers, led by Mandy Greene and Girl Jeanne MacPherson, hosted the inaugural North Carolina Youth Rowing State Championships in April, which drew hundreds of rowers and thousands of spectators to High Point.
Coaches from across the state unanimously voted High Point’s Festival Park at Oak Hollow Lake as the championship venue for its central location and the local organizing committee’s proven success at hosting regional rowing events.
Racing as HPG Rowing to reflect the addition of the Greensboro chapter of the organization, High Point/Greensboro rowers cleaned up in the Olympic class of sculling events and ultimately won 7 out of the 14 state titles it entered.
Cheers to us!
Success at the state championships led to the club earning its first ever medals at the USRowing Southeast Regional Championships. Racing on the Olympic rowing course at Lake Lanier just outside of Atlanta, Maddie Mullins and Junior Ognovich struck gold in the women’s pair. Hours later Ainsley Fox, Lindsay York, Molly Hilemn, and Charlotte Curri won bronze in the women’s Under 17 quad sculls final.
Winning the regional championship qualified Maddie and Junior for the USRowing Youth National Championships – another first for our club. “This was in itself an incredible achievement for Maddie and Junior,” says Coach Gene. “But they then proved that they and their club belonged at the national championships.”
This year’s youth national championships were held in Sarasota, Florida and began with a time trial to seed the top 12 crews and dismiss the remaining. Maddie and Junior finished with the 6th fastest time and from there qualified for the final with a top 3 finish in the semi final round. By the time racing was complete High Point’s finest were ranked sixth in the nation!
High Point’s masters rowed to a new standard as well in 2017, winning silver in the women’s coxed four at the Dogwood masters Championships and then racing at the Masters National Championships.
With the change of season from Summer to Autumn, the 5th Anniversary Row & Potluck showed off the growth of the club with the addition of Greensboro Crew. Rowers from both chapters united for an exhibition Row and races by class year for youth and age by decade for the Masters. We like to think of Oak Hollow Lake as beautiful one day, perfect the next. And the 5th Anniversary Row was no exception.
High Point and Greensboro again united in September, this time for the High Point Autumn Rowing Festival. A record 500 rowers and an estimated 1,500 spectators again gathered at Festival Park at Oak Hollow Lake.
But this year’s regatta will be most remembered for the brisk 15 mile per hour winds at the start of racing, which lifted the regatta’s iconic giant inflated rubber duck from its anchors and sent it flying down the lake.
Mayhem ensued, as the first round of crews, fearing possible disqualification for not ’rounding the duck’, began chasing the duck down the lake at full speed.
The giant duck soon ended up on land by Centennial Avenue and rowers were directed back on the race course. HPG led the day with the most gold medals won.
High Point closed out the racing season with historic performances at the Head of the South, winning gold and bronze in the women’s quad sculls, gold in the youth lightweight single sculls event, bronze in the men’s quad sculls, women’s novice eight and U16 mixed youth eight and women’s masters eights. The squad also won two silvers in the middle school eight and fours event.
Nothing caps off the racing season better than the Celebration of Rowing banquet and this year’s gala, chaired by Jackie King at Sedgefield Country Club, lived up to reputation. High Point prides itself on inviting legendary guest speakers for the dinner and this year Jason Read wowed guests with his story of tragedy to triumph.
A volunteer rescue squad fire chief from the age of 21, Read received the call to Ground Zero on the morning of September 11, 2001 shortly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York.
Just three years later Jason Read represented his country again, bringing home the Olympic gold as part of the men’s eight rowing crew at the 2004 Athens games.
But the year 2017 wasn’t over yet. In December the good times continued with two more social events, the Masters Mingle and Holiday Youth Dance.
We have much to be grateful for at High Point Rowing Club – not least is our wonderful rowing members. 2017 was certainly a year to remember for High Point rowers for the wonderful bonds of friendship and fast rowing by our crews – may there be many more!