Zelenka Olympics


Sarah Zelenka McIlduff
GV Alumni ’05-’09
Dad Vail, ACRA Champion
National Team Gold Medalist
2012 Olympian, Women’s 2-


Mark McIlduff
Assistant Coach ’06-’10


Banquet Features Mark, Sarah Zelenka-Mcilduff as Keynotes

The GVSU Rowing team would like to welcome back two distinguished alumni of the team: former coach Mark McIlduff and Olympic athlete Sarah Zelenka McIlduff. The team is excited to host both Sarah and Mark at the annual spring banquet, taking place on May 21st at English Hills Country Club. Both will be our featured key note speakers for the event, sharing their experiences with the team and beyond.


Sarah Zelenka McIlduff ’09 rowed for Grand Valley State University from 2005-2009. Sarah won a silver medal at the Dad Vail in the D-II Women’s Varsity Eight for three consecutive years, before finally breaking through with a dominating gold medal performance in the D-I Varsity Eight in 2009. Sarah was invited to participate in the U-23 selection camp that summer, and represented the USA in the women’s four in the Czech Republic. Following graduation from GVSU, Sarah trained with the US national team in Princeton, NJ. She won a gold medal in the women’s four at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Lucerne, SUI. In 2012, Sarah won the women’s pair Olympic trials, coming back from a 6 second deficit at the 1000m mark, and securing her spot at the 2012 Olympic Games. In London, Sarah and her partner finished in 4th place in the Olympic final, in one of the closest races of the games.

Sarah coached at the University of Louisville from 2012-2015, leading her boats to program best finishes, conference championship victories, and an NCAA appearance. In the summer of 2015, Sarah returned to competitive training with her 2012 pair partner and chased the Olympic dream for a second time. The pair finished in the grand final of the national selection regatta, earning a spot at the 2016 national team selection camp. Sarah made it to the final day of selection, but ultimately fell short of earning a spot on the 2016 Olympic team.

Sarah is pursuing her MS in Sports Nutrition, and works as a certified personal trainer and nutritionist in Boston, MA. She doesn’t have immediate plans of training for the 2020 Olympic Games.


Mark McIlduff ’10, was an Assistant Coach at Grand Valley State University from 2006-2010. During his time at GVSU, the men and women won multiple championships at the MACRA, Dad Vail, and ACRA regattas (JB’s triple crown!), including the ACRA team point’s trophy in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Mark rowed competitively in college and throughout graduate school, but never to the level of his wife, Sarah. They now live in Massachusetts and are expecting a baby girl in August. Mark holds a BS from University of Dayton, a MS in Biostatistics from GVSU, an MBA from the University of Louisville, and is currently pursuing a degree in Data Science from Harvard University. Mark works as the Director, Analytical Services at Boston Biomedical Associates in Boston, MA.







The Grand Valley State University Rowing Club challenges its student-athletes to reach the highest level to which they aspire both academically and athletically, while continuing to build and sustain a nationally competitive intercollegiate rowing program.

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