A small but determined bunch of Boys' Latin rowers are looking to make their mark in the 91st edition of the Stotesbury Cup Regatta.
With the temperature topping out at 93 degrees Friday on the sun-splashed Schuylkill, the little-known Public League crew fared reasonably well against a highly competitive field at the world's oldest and largest scholastic high school scholastic event.
In the early afternoon, with Dejuan Hill as the stroke and Shane Glover the bow, the Boys' Latin senior double placed 11th - and qualified for Saturday's semifinal round - with a clocking of 5 minutes, 34.87 seconds.
Earlier, Malachi Jiles and Raja Mitchell did the same in the junior double by finishing eighth in 5:45.51.
This year, Stotesbury features teams from 193 schools in the United States and Canada, 963 boats, 5,388 athletes, and 30 championship events.
Boys' Latin, which is located in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia, has 10 members. The crew's director is Jamie Gordon. Mollie Cusack guides the varsity, and Kyle Yerger directs the novice competitors.
Fourth-year members Hill and Glover were both encouraged to give rowing a try by a parent.
"The summer before ninth grade, my mom [Tina] got me to sign up for the two-week Learn to Row program," Hill said. "It took some time, but I gradually began to enjoy it."
Glover's father, Duane, was the driving force behind his start. "I really didn't want to go at first," the 17-year-old said. "My dad said to me, 'At least give it a try. If it's not your thing, you can switch to a different sport.' "
This is Cusack's first year coaching Boys' Latin. Since Upper Dublin did not have a team when she was in high school, she rowed for the Bachelors Barge Club, then overseen by Gordon, and went on to Drexel.
Cusack, 26, previously was an assistant coach at Drexel and Bryn Mawr.
"I wanted to get into coaching at the high school level," the Fishtown resident said. "The kids are like sponges. They soak in everything you have to say."
Hill, 17, practiced twice a day with the Vesper Boat Club - from 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m. - last summer. It competed in the USRowing Club National Championships in Ohio and the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.
Hill will row at La Salle University on a partial scholarship and study chemistry. Glover, who rowed for the Bachelors Barge Club last summer, plans to join La Salle's crew as a walk-on and study sports medicine.
Boys' Latin rows out of Vesper's facility on Boathouse Row.
"Our school's CEO [David Hardy] and principal [Noah Tennant] have been real supportive," Glover said. "They come to watch our races."
In the boys' senior eight Friday, Ridley (5th place), La Salle (6th), Episcopal (8th), St. Joseph's Prep (9th), Haverford School (13th), and Ocean City (18th) advanced to Saturday's semifinals.
"It was a strong headwind in the trials," Ocean City boys' coach Mike Millar said. "But since we row on the back bay in Ocean City, we're used to that."
The semifinal qualifiers in the girls' senior eight included Mount St. Joseph (2nd), Holy Spirit (6th), Ocean City (15th), Mainland (16th), and Archbishop Carroll (18th). The Mount (5:05.03) was close behind Washington's National Cathedral (5:04.71).
Malvern Prep (4:53.15) and Conestoga (5:30.10) were the top qualifiers in the boys' and girls' senior quad, respectively.