Due to Saturday's heavy weather, the Sunday racing schedule was changed to include the remaining Saturday races, putting the A finals earlier and C finals later in the day - which meant early wake-up calls for many of the sculling finalists. The weather that threatened all through Saturday had left the scene, and flat water and a lingering heat were the weather features of the climactic day. Youth Nationals photo galleries:
The first grand final of the day was the Women's single, and a rower from the smallest qualifying regions - Maddie Lips from Mile High Rowing Club in the Central region --came out on top. From the semis, Lips, Maureen O'Hanlon (Marina Aquatic Center Junior Rowing, CA), Alycia Daloia-Moore (The Ursuline School, NY) and GMS Rowing Center's (CT) Maria Mayden posted the best times. Lips' semi was considerably slower, however, so it really looked on paper like it could have been any of these young women on the top of the podium. But it was Lips that poured it on, finishing a little over a second faster than Daloia-Moore, with O'Hanlon third. Both of these girls had been regional winners as well, certainly what this event is about to see the best juniors in one place.
For the next grand final, it turned out to be the first gold for the winner from New Canaan (CT) High School Rowing Club's Andrew Campbell. Campbell had a year of high level competition in his muscle memory, and he had good recall. On Sunday morning the natural lightweight (approximately 153 pounds) took the Youth 1X by just shy of 6 seconds over Steel City (PA) Rowing Club's Matt Maddamma and Lake Union (WA) Crew's Michael Wales. Andrew's younger brother Charlie Campbell was in the Grand Final also, finishing sixth.
After the win, Campbell paddled hastily to the recovery dock, had some water and got out of his single, took about 2 minutes on land before departing the dock for the Grand Final of the Lightweight 2x with Alec Buckenheimer. He let his bowman do much of the work on the way out, but it was hot seating at the highest level. The schedule change tightened up the morning for Campbell, but it was something he and Coach Yan Vengerovskiy had prepared for.
"We definitely knew this was going to be the case, so we had been doing a lot of interval work, a lot of focusing on recovery, heart rate...all year long to prepare for events like this," said Campbell after the race. It looks like it paid off, as the double from New Canaan won that event as well, by 4 seconds over Connecticut neighbors GMS Rowing Center.
Now, about that muscle memory for Campbell. He and doubles partner Alec Buckenheimer were the U23 LM2x in Racice, Czech Republic last summer, and come fall Campbell won several head races in the 1x, including the Head of the Schuylkill. He has spent the spring on the same path, rowing often with Buckenheimer ( who will be joining the Princeton lightweight team next year), but also building on this fall success in a single.
"We started in the fall doing small boat training, and it was going pretty well, so we decided to enter in some races in the single," explains Campbell. The result of his success in a single? He is aiming for a spot on the US Junior World team in a single. He'll be training into the summer to meet that goal, then it is on to Harvard where he will join the lightweight team.
New Canaan had sculling figured out at this championship regatta, as their men's and women's quads were also in the medals, with gold for the men and bronze for the women. The Men's quad of Will Dannemann, Charlie Kelly, Aaron Tas and Roger Stone won by almost 6 seconds over Lake Union Crew, with Sammamish (WA) Rowing Club third. The New Canaan Women came in third behind Long Beach Rowing Club's Heather Snead, Ally Wilches, Rebeca Felix and Mackenzie Sherman with Saugatuck (CT) second.
In the Women's double, the Detroit (MI) crew of Alexandra Chrumka and Allison Declercq won by 5 seconds over Long Beach (CA) Rowing Club and Pocock Rowing Club (WA), another region-spanning final.
One notable race that could have taken place on the left coast was the Men's Lightweight Eight. The top-3 of this event were all California crews....they could have saved some gas and had this scuffle on home water, but they took it to Ohio. Marina Aquatic Center, Marin Rowing Association and Newport Aquatic Center came in 1-2-3 within 2.5 seconds. Canisius High School, a scholastic team from NY, finished fourth.
The pair races provided some close racing Saturday and Sunday on the men's side, while the women's races were a bit more spread out. Four of the men's boats entered the finals with semi times within one second. One of those fast boats, who had won their heat (though not the fastest heat) was Saratoga Rowing Association. This was a bit of a surprise to the sophomore in bow, Liam Casey.
"We didn't have much competition at NY States (where the crew qualified), so we didn't know what to expect," said Casey. Casey and Arik Torkelson had only spent the last couple weeks in a pair, before that they were 5 and 6 seat of the Saratoga RA club eight. Whatever they did over those couple weeks with Coach Steve Knapp must have worked, the crew won by two tenths of a second over Capital City Rowing, Fairfield Prep third. "We knew the middle of our race was not our strongest, so we worked on that," said Casey. To follow Coach Knapp's anti-burnout philosophy, neither are rowing this summer.
The women's pair was not a tight race for the gold, but the silver-bronze match had a near collision and exhaustion at the finish. The pair of Kelsey Reelick and Lucy Grinalds, 6 and 7 seat of the Connecticut Boat Club Eight (that later won the Women's Youth Eight in almost course record time) established a lead early on, and just opened water after the 1000, when it seemed the second and third-place boats had magnets on their shells, and drifted toward each other a couple times the second half of the race. As they crossed the orange buoy line, CBC was ahead by a full 14 seconds, Pacific Rowing second, one-tenth of a second ahead of Essex.
The CBC pair had some time to decompress after their win in the pair, and thankfully they did not have to empty their tanks. In the interim, they cheered on their team mates, who won the Lightweight 4+ by five seconds over NorCal Crew. If the New Canaan crews owned the sculling events, there is no doubt CBC had the run on sweep events, winning three of five races entered. These crews are neighbors in Connecticut, and with other programs like Saugatuck, Greenwich, GMS and several prep school programs nearby, the Northeast remains one of the most competitive regions.
In the Men's 4+ final, it was another Connecticut crew, Choate Rosemary Hall, who pressed Belmont Hill School from Massachusetts to a win in the race. Long beach Junior Crew was third, with a NW scholastic crew, Lakeside School, taking fourth. This was one of the rare high school-dominated events.
With a slew of spectators in the water cooling themselves on the hot day, a small high school from Connecticut (again!) won the Men's Eight. Kent School won the event in a tight race over Marin Rowing Club by one second, Cincinnati Junior Rowing (one of the host clubs) third. For Coach Eric Houston, who has been a coach of Kent for 26 years (though not all of them as head coach), it was a high point for the program.
"This is an unexpected group...a nice surprise," shared Coach Houston after the race. "These guys all went to Henley last year in an eight or a four, and they are going again this year, and I think it (last year in Henley) really helped them," said Houston. A little history here: an early coach of Kent crew was Hart Perry (National Rowing Foundation Executive Director) and a big supporter of the crew was Kent alum and Perry pair partner Tully Vaughn, who also started a program at Villanova University. Perry is also a rare American steward at the Henley Royal regatta, thus the strong link to Henley for Kent crew.
It was observed on the shores and in the referees trailer how nicely this crew rowed; in reaction to this, coach says he works a lot on technique during the spring, and last year this group of athletes also honed their technical skill with weeks of just technique work without pressure in preparation for Henley.
"They found some speed," says Houston. The team does not row in the fall, as Kent School has the kids focus on other sports and academics, but when spring comes into view, "they are hungry," says Houston. Kent starts the season in March in Tampa, then it is full-tilt to Youth Nationals. The crew of Pat Knorring (cox), Alex Perkins, Christian Reynolds, Slava Chupryna, Morgan Weaver, Jordan Traub, Christian Naylor, David Cerami and Ricki Bourke includes 6 seniors, so next year will be about rebuilding the eight.
For the Women's eight, as mentioned earlier, CBC took this with one of the more "statement" victories of Sunday racing. The crew of Katherine Isaza (cox), Rosemary Grinalds, Kelsey Reelick, Lucy Grinalds, Kat Lauer, Erin Reelick, Christine Bragg, Emily Pik and Paige Conye have done a lot of winning this year, but that was their goal. "We came off this summer, and talked about goals, and they said they wanted to have an undefeated season," said coach Liz Trond They achieved this, and not by having a soft schedule--it was all high-level races). "That guided every practice, and that decision came from them," she concludes.
"They are very strong and very focused," says Trond, "and we had a really great fall season." CBC (then Maritime Rowing Club, they have undergone some apparel and name changes, but the platoon is still the same.) won the Head of the Charles from 11th bow number, credit to this goes to coxswain Katherine Isaza, who was new to competitive coxing last fall. "I found out I can cox a head race well!" she says of the lessons she learned on the way. Isaza will be going to CanAmMex development camp this summer.
On the road to this Sunday Youth Nationals victory, they had won each heat and semi by plenty of wiggle room. Although had every indication the girls could win this, she set a higher goal for them: to set the youth course record. At press time, the record is uncertain but the win was authoritative.
Trond says they do work a good bit on technique, with a lot of sixes rowing to keep good balance while they work on tweaks that make them better. There is surely more to it than that, but it works. They won the grand final by 6 seconds over Oakland (CA) Strokes, with New Trier High School (IL) just behind them--and credit goes to New Trier, who brought a high school program to the podium.
The weather held out Sunday for all the C Finals as the day closed at Harsha Lake, hot and muggy and muddy at the venue, but no rain. A nod to both the official owners of the race (US Rowing), the host organization (Cincinnati Junior Rowing) and the officials on land and on water. After one of many prolonged breaks for a front to pass over the lake, row2k shared an overflowing launch with some of the most jovial referees in the business. Cheers to them! (Alice and Doug, you get the fun-ref award on the weekend).