PCRA girls varsity four wins state rowing championship, heads to nationals


The Pelham Community Rowing Association girls varsity four crew won first at the New York State Scholastic Championships in Saratoga Springs over weekend.

In the boat were three Pelham Memorial High School students: Lila Resnick, Meredith Cullen and Nellie Koonce, all sophomores, along with Juliet Hutton, a freshman who attends Mamaroneck High School, and Sarah Rotenberg, a freshman who attends the Hackley School.

Placing in the top three at states qualifies the crew for youth nationals in Sarasota, Florida.

“The adrenaline during a race is completely unmatched and crossing the line first is the best feeling in the world,” said Resnick, the captain. “I was able to turn around and give Nellie a hug right after we crossed the finish line, and that was a moment I will never forget.”

“Being able to work hard every day all year and see that pay off is an extremely rewarding feeling,” Resnick said.

As of October 2022, Sarah Dierksen took over as the new head coach of a girls program that needed rebuilding.

“I was very lucky to be left with an amazing group of young women, but the team was in a bit of a tough spot when I arrived,” Dierksen said. “As the girls watched themselves get better everyday, they were able to see that their hard work can take them far, which really helped boost their confidence.”

“Our team has certainly faced many highs and lows through my time here, but every experience has been met with resilience and a positive attitude,” she said. “Although the rowers in my boat did not all start at the same time, we quickly grew a strong bond and found a rhythm together that is extremely special.”

Looking to nationals, Youth Program Director Reid Johnson said, they bring “together the best boats and athletes in rowing from across the country to compete for the right to call themselves a national champion. Qualifying for this regatta is an important first step in getting the opportunity to represent PCRA at the highest level of junior rowing in the country, and our athletes will be very well prepared to show what they are capable of. We see qualifying for the regatta as a great accomplishment but want to make clear that our coaches and athletes have big goals and aim to be incredibly competitive in Florida.”

The victory meant a lot not only to the crew but to the entire program, according to Dierksen. “It proves that the girls are capable of doing big things. The fact that this win came from such a young group of girls shows that we as a program have an even bigger future ahead of us.”