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Sculling club looking for expansion


The Quad City Rowing Association had just five members in 1989, but now has nearly 90 members, as the sport of sculling grows in popularity. The group holds the annual Quad Cities Classic on the Mississippi River behind The Mark of the Quad Cities.

Sculling, traditionally an East Cost sport, has branched out to the Midwest, thanks to the Quad City Rowing Association.

The QCRA, formed in 1989, was an offshoot of its predecessor, the Sylvan Boat Club, which existed more than 100 years ago.

The group had five members in 1989, grew to 40 in 1995, and now has nearly 90 members.

``It's a demanding physical sport,'' eight-year member Terry Cahill, said. ``You can go out and race for speed, or you can go out and enjoy yourself and the scenery.''

With new members joining each year, the QCRA's boathouse is getting cramped.

``We are currently in the process of final stages of negotiating with the city of Moline on a lease of land for a new boathouse,'' Mr. Cahill, chairman of the new boathouse committee, said.

A new boathouse would allow easier access to the boats and allow for more membership growth, he said.

The organization also has brought some revenue to the Quad-Cities area by hosting an annual Quad Classic Rowing and Regatta each October.

The event has been held since 1993 on the Mississippi River behind The Mark of the Quad Cities.

In 1996, the QCRA hosted the Iowa Games rowing events for the first time, and in 1997 hosted it again in conjunction with the opening of the John Deere Commons.

The sport of sculling in this area also has given several high school kids the chance to go to a big-time college thanks to the QCRA.

Riverdale senior Wesley Ann Toppert signed a national letter of intent last November to attend the University of Southern California for women's rowing.

``It's a great and very competitive sport and with Title IX going through, it's a great opportunity for girls,'' Ms. Toppert said. ``There are a lot of scholarships out there now, since a lot of state schools are picking up rowing because of Title IX.''

Ms. Toppert has one of the top ergometer scores in the country for her age group. She decided to go to USC rather than East Coast rowing powerhouse Penn State because USC is closer to the Olympic Training Center.

Todd Moen, Moline, reached his goal of rowing for an Ivy League school in January of 1997. He committed to Yale after the college noticed him in competitions in the summer of 1996.

At the same time Mr. Moen committed to Yale, Davenport's Jon Wallace committed to the University of Pennsylvania, also in the Ivy League.

A couple of others who have been blessed by the sport of rowing include Eric and Sara Den Besten of Bettendorf. Eric attended Yale and Sara attended Bucknell. Both have a shot of making the next national team that will compete in the 2000 Olympics.

-- By Shane McDonough (February 9, 1998)

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