August 4, 2011
WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - Just before ending her day Friday, Gevvie Stone got an email from a master sculler she trains with at Cambridge Boat Club.
It had been a long tough summer for Stone, of Newton, Mass. After winning the first national selection regatta in the women's single sculls, she had the chance to go to Europe to earn a spot on the United States team that would compete at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
She raced first in Munich, Germany and missed the final. Then she went to Lucerne, Switzerland, came down with strep throat, and missed again.
Her bid for the national team, which began in early spring, came down to the 2011 Senior World Championship Trials on Mercer Lake, West Windsor, N.J. this week.
Her friend, John Grant, knew what she had been through and sent her the message.
"He said that getting your bow across first is a good cure for pain," Stone said.
This morning she did just that, winning the women's single sculls and earning her nomination to the national team and a trip to Bled.
"It's a good feeling. Definitely."
Stone was one of 13 crews that earned nominations to the national team after winning their respective events. Racing was decided in five Olympic events, including the women's single sculls, men's double sculls, men's pair, women's pair and lightweight men's double sculls and seven non-Olympic events including the lightweight men's single sculls, lightweight women's single sculls, lightweight men's pair, men's pair with coxswain, lightweight men's quadruple sculls, lightweight women's quadruple sculls and the women's four, and the lightweight men's eight.
Stone, rowing against Seattle Rowing Center's Lindsay Meyer (Seattle, Wash.), Potomac Boat Club's Margot Shumway (Westlake, Ohio.) and Union Boat Club's Mae Joyce Gay (Greenville, S.C.), jumped off the line and pushed her bow into the lead after the first 250 meters.
She tried to extend the lead, but Shumway wouldn't let her. Stone twice had to match moves by the Beijing Olympian and four-time national team sculler. It wasn't until the final 500 meters that Stone took complete control, finishing first in 7:48.98, just a shade under four seconds ahead of Shumway.
"Margot did not give up," Stone said. "She put in a good fight and she's gained a lot of speed since April."
Stone's race was just one example of what happens when athletes put a year of training on the line. Over and over this morning, crews fought their way down the 2,000-meter course to earn their chance.
Some had an easier time than others, but most of the racing was tight.
In the men's double sculls, the USTC-Chula Vista's Wes Piermarini (West Brookfield, Mass.) and Jamie Koven (Green Village, N.Y.) jumped into an early lead and did what they could to hold off Craftsbury Sculling Center brothers Peter and Thomas Graves (Cincinnati, Ohio).
All the way down the course, the Graves brothers chased Piermarini and Koven until in the final 500 meters when they caught and passed the Chula Vista boat, finishing in 6:32.76 to Chula Vista's 6:34.60.
"We knew we had to stay pretty close to them," said Thomas Graves. "They had a good start and base piece. We knew if we stuck close, we had a pretty good finish piece. So we just stuck to our guns. We were just going for it."
In the first race of the day, USRowing Training Center-Princeton's pair of Kady Glessner (Seattle, Wash.) and Caryn Davies (Ithaca, N.Y.) took control in the first 200 meters and just continued to push through the body of the race. Glessner and Davies finished more than a full 20 seconds ahead of the Vesper pair of Shannon Kaplan (Aloha, Ore.) and Christina Meyer (Saline, Mich.) in 7:34.46.
"It's a step in the right direction," said Davies, an Athens and Beijing Olympian who had taken a two-year break from the national team after winning gold in 2008. "We still have a lot of work to do."
In the men's pair, USRowing Training Center-Oklahoma City's Silas Stafford (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Ryan Monaghan (Pittsford, N.Y.) took an early lead and held that position going into the last 750 meters. In the sprint, USTC-Oklahoma City's Tom Peszek (Farmington Hills, Mich.) and Justin Stangel (Madison, Wis.) made a huge push and took the race for their own.
Peszek and Stangel won with a time of 6:39.16 over Stafford and Monaghan's 6:46.29.
"We had a pretty good start, but Silas and Monaghan came out faster," said Peszek. "We stayed calm and collected as we rowed. But when push comes to shove, only one boat wins."
Next up in the lightweight men's double sculls, the three-boat final featured GMS Rowing Center's NSR #2 winners Brian de Regt (Rowayton, Conn.) and Jon Winter (New Haven, Conn.). Like Stone, de Regt and Winter raced in Europe over the summer but did not qualify for a nomination to the team.
This time, they did not let the chance slip.
The GMS crew won with a time of 6:34.04 over the composite entry from USTC-Oklahoma City/New York Athletic Club's Robert Duff (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.) and Tom Paradiso (Blue Bell, Pa.) that finished in 6:37.01.
"That was probably the toughest field we have ever faced in the U.S.," said de Regt. "It was really tight through 750 meters to go, and then we were able to open up just a little bit and get more comfortable in the last 250 meters."
In the lightweight women's single sculls, Ursula Grobler (Pretoria, South Africa) won her race in 7:51.41 over entries from Vesper Boat Club and Penn AC Rowing Association.
"The start was a little shaky for me, not quite as clean as I would like it to be," Grobler said. "We were all together there, but I thought, just get in a rhythm and push, and then the field opened up."
The lightweight men's single sculls final was tight through the body of the race, but Cambridge Boat Club's Andrew Campbell (New Canaan, Con.) defeated Colorado Rowing's Greg Ruckman (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Undine's Andy Quinn (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) with a time of 7:11.10.
The nineteen-year-old Harvard sophomore won the bronze medal last month at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Amsterdam.
Following Campbell's win was the final of the men's lightweight pair, a two-boat race won by Dartmouth/Hanover Training Center's Kyle Lafferty ((Hockessin, Del.) and Phillip Oertle (Zurich, Switzerland) in a time of 7:01.73.
The lightweight eight USTC-Oklahoma City/Hanover Training Camp composite crew of coxswain John Carlson (Belmont, Mass.), Jimmy Sopko (Mathews, Va.), Kenny McMahon (Ladysmith, Wis.), Christian Klein (Herndon, Va.), Will Newell (Weston Conn.), Edward King (Ironton, Mo.), Matt Kochem (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) and Austin Meyer (Cohoes, N.Y.) rowed uncontested to earn a spot on the team, posting a time of 5:57.57.
In the lightweight men's quadruple sculls, the composite entry of Malta/Penn AC/GMS Rowing Center's Chris Lamber (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Todd Mickelson (Woodinville, Wash.), Shane Madden (Ambler, Pa,) and Sam Cunningham (Pittsburgh, Pa.) won its event in 6:20.83, defeating composite entries from Vesper Boat Club/Riverside Boat Club/New York Athletic Club and Undine Boat Club.
"Vesper went out with us; we made our shift at the 500 and then continued from there," said Madden, who is also making a return to the national team. "It feels pretty good. It's been a rough couple of years."
In the next race, the lightweight women's quadruple sculls, the composite entry from USTC-Oklahoma City/Pocock Rowing Center/Riverside Boat Club finished in 7:10.92, defeating the Vesper entry.
Wrapping up the racing was the women's four, a two-boat race won by USTC-Princeton's Sarah Hendershot (West Simsbury, Conn.), Emily Regan (Buffalo, N.Y.), Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif.) and Sara Zelenka (Park Ridge, Ill.) in 7:14.06 over the entry from USTC-Oklahoma City.