Graves and Wopat 'hammered down' the same time at CRASH-Bs.
Carie Graves seldom needs an introduction; three-time US Olympian ('76, '80 and '84), Olympic gold medal winner with the US Women's 8+ in Los Angeles, and longtime coach at Northeastern and Texas, among other stops. Additionally, Graves is somewhat of an institution at the CRASH-Bs, having won it numerous times, including last year.
Graves' toughest competition at the 2016 CRASH-Bs came from Ann Wopat of Lake Union Crew. In a great race, Wopat and Graves tied for the win, with both women finishing at 7:39.6.
After the race, it turned out that Graves and Wopat had more in common than just their time; both hail from Wisconsin, both went to UW, although Wopat did not row while attending, and their towns of Lodi (Wopat) and Spring Green (Graves) are just 35 miles apart.
"We're farm girls," Graves said. "Two farm girls from Wisconsin," Wopat added. "Two tough farm girls."
The two had never met before today, although Graves had looked online and seen Wopat's qualifying score. "I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with," Graves said.
Graves and Wopat (obscured) during the race
As the race got underway, the two were well aware of each other. "I was just trying to do my best race," said Wopat. "I knew she was going to do her best race, so I was trying not to look what she was doing."
"You were ahead of me for the race," Graves noted.
"I was ahead for a long time, and then I kept thinking, she's coming, she's coming," said Wopat. "Then she moved up, and then I moved up."
"I wasn't even aware what was happening in that last 15 to 10 seconds, "Graves said. "It just hurt like hell. So, I didn't really know. "
"That's when I was kind of pulling it back," continued Wopat. "I was coming to battle here. I spent the last energy I had."
"Holly [Hatton], my coxswain, told me that we tied," said Graves. "I didn't even know."
Row2k then noted that their back and forth about the race sounded like a lot like the HS kids who raced soon after them, and Wopat and Graves didn't disagree.
"Competition keeps you young," said Wopat. "Competition and being around other people, too. I mean, doing what you love," continued Graves. "I mean, it is kind of a goofy sport, in a way, but it's really not, either. It's very competitive. It's very hard. But on the other hand, C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints, everybody treats it extremely seriously, but still, it's a tool. A tool to stay fit during the winter time. That's the way I look at it. I mean, if I had a choice, I like being on the water, but erging, if you want to stay and you want to get stronger, it's the thing to do."
We're definitely looking forward to the Wisconsin farm girl rematch at the CRASH-Bs in 2017!