Originally created 07/25/99

Augusta State entrants dominate rowing events



GLOVERVILLE -- It was a warm wind that blew across Langley Pond on Saturday, providing relief to a spirited group of about 175 rowers competing in the Georgia Games.

"It went great," said Augusta Rowing Club organizer Rick Toole of the 28 races that finished right on time at 1:15 p.m., long before the worst heat of the day. "The competition was great. The weather held out, and the competitors all obviously had a great time."

Among the most pleased of those competitors was Augusta State University coach George J. Fry III, known as "G3" to his friends.

His team of 20 rowers won medals in 12 of the 14 boats entered. Among the medals were four golds "and lots of silver," said Augusta State team member Jenny Phillip.

Phillip, a 19-year-old sophomore, was typical of Augusta State's performance. She and her friend Jen Powell, 20, a junior, stood with their coach wearing two silver medals for their performances in the open mixed fours and the open women's fours.

"It was extremely tough in the heat, especially rowing three 1,000-meter races in rapid succession," Phillip said. "But it was great. We're having a great day."

The Augusta State program is beginning to make a name for itself around the country. "That's what we're trying to do," said junior Eugene Teasley, 33, "but it's hard to make an impression against Harvard, Yale and West Point. They have such tradition -- and money."

Coach Fry agreed, saying the toughest part is going to major national regattas with 20 rowers and facing elite teams with 80 experienced athletes. "But every time we perform well like today, it gives us more exposure, and that helps us recruit more Augusta State students."

Sophomore John Roth, 21, said he came to Augusta State for the rowing team. He had rowed for three years at Christchurch Prep School in Virginia and then attended a college without a rowing program.

"I missed the rowing, and my parents live in Thomson, so when I started noticing Augusta State's success, I wanted to come here," said Roth, wearing a bronze medal for his day's work.

Each team member said the camaraderie of the team was as important to him as the competition, or his success.

Juniors Mickey Ebenroth, 27, Christine Jones, 20, and Aimee Lombard, 21, were all adorned with one gold and two bronze medals.

Lombard attends the University of Georgia but was rowing for Augusta State for her summer fun. "I've been rowing since high school at Lakeside, but I'm back with all my pals I grew up with this summer," she said.

Coach Fry said all 20 team members won at least one medal. He said his team came to the Georgia Games with two goals. "We were looking for experience for our young athletes and medals for experienced rowers, and we got everything that we came for."

Stephen D. Hale may be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.