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The Mariemont High School Sailing Team heads to the national championship competition

The Mariemont Sailing Team is the only high school sailing team in Ohio

November 6, 2012

The Cincinnati area may not be a hotbed for competitive sailing, but thanks to the efforts of a handful of high school students, Mariemont High School now boasts the only high school sailing team in Ohio.

Senior Griffin Rolander, with the help of senior Alec Ahrens, started the sailing team two years ago, and it has now grown to five members including sophomore Nick Weston, junior Allie Howe and senior Olivia Cooke.

Both Griffin and Alec have sailed since they were young children during summer vacations in Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively. “I like sailing because it’s a sport different from any other sport,” said Griffin. “It’s takes a certain set of skills, both physical and mental, and there’s nothing like ripping on the water.”

Mariemont participated and found success in five events so far this season, traveling to Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Griffin and Nick won the A Fleet of the Grosse Ile Invitational in Michigan in September, beating out 15 other high schools for the title. The pair traveled on to place 3rd out of 23 A Fleet teams at the Culver Invitational in Indiana in October. At the Turkey Leg Regatta in Spring Lake, Michigan, Griffin and Nick won the A Fleet once again, beating out 17 other teams. Alec, Olivia and Allie rallied to place 9th in the B Fleet. Most notably, Griffin, Nick and Alec placed 4th at the regional Great Oaks Qualifier in Lake Forest, Illinois, qualifying them as one of just six Midwest teams to sail in the Great Oaks National High School Championship in New Orleans on November 10-11. At the Great Oaks Championship they sailed on Lake Ponchartrain against 36 qualifying high schools from across the nation, and they placed 6th overall.

“I love the strategy of sailing,” said Alec. “It’s the closest you can get to flying without a pilot’s license.”

Although the sailing team is just a club right now, Alec and Griffin have plans to petition for sailing to become a sanctioned high school sport. Even though they are both graduating this school year, there are members of the team that they think are willing and able to carry the sailing team at Mariemont into the future.

“I know we both plan on coming back from college from time to time to help coach if we can,” said Alec. “It’s a sport we’ve both been involved with for most of our lives and we hope other students get excited about it too.”

Mariemont is an active member of MISSA, the Midwest regional governing body for high school sailing. MISSA is part of the Interscholastic High School Sailing Association, which has seven regions in the US.