WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - Three boats - the women's single sculls, women's double sculls and lightweight men's double sculls - swept their best two-out-of-three finals at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Rowing at Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J., while Conal Groom forced a third final against Adam Holland in the men's single sculls.
While four boat classes are being contested in this set of trials, the winners will still have some work to do in order to qualify for the Olympic Games. In these four events, the U.S. did not earn automatic qualification slots for the Olympics at the 2003 World Championships. Therefore, the winners of the trials will have to qualify for the Games at the Olympic Qualification Regatta June 13-16 in Lucerne, Switzerland.
In the closest race of the day, Conal Groom (Northford, Conn.) turned the tables on Harvard University Boat Club's Adam Holland (Philadelphia, Pa.) to force a decisive third final. Groom, rowing out of Pocock Rowing Center, fell to Holland by 0.25 seconds in Friday's first final. But in Saturday morning's second final, he clocked a 6:54.14 to defeat Holland by 0.24 seconds. Saugatuck Rowing Club's Ken Jurkowski finished third. Groom and Holland now will face off on Sunday at 7 a.m. to determine the winner of the trials.
The other three boats all wrapped up trials' wins on Saturday. For the second day in a row, Pocock Rowing Center's Jennifer Devine (Portland, Ore.), a 1996 Olympian, easily won her race in the women's single sculls. Devine stroked a 7:36.46 to finish 11.85 seconds ahead of Augusta Rowing Club's Cindy Bishop (Atlanta, Ga.). Bishop clocked a 7:48.31. Pocock Rowing Center's Anne Browning finished third in a time of 7:57.73. For Devine, 2004 will be her second trip through the Olympic Qualification Regatta. In 1996, she had to use the same route to make the team in the women's double sculls. In Lucerne, she will need to finish in the top three in order to make the Olympic Games.
In the second final of the women's double sculls, Augusta Rowing Club's Ala Piotrowski (Manchester, N.H.) and Carol Skricki (Norwood, Mass.) edged the Princeton Training Center duo of Kristin Goodrich (Portola Valley, Calif.) and Dana Peirce (Richmond, Va.) by 1.82 seconds to earn the victory. Piotrowski and Skricki finished with a time of 6:57.17, while Goodrich and Peirce finished in a 6:58.99. Potomac Boat Club's Katie Madigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Catherine Humblet (Cambridge, Mass.) came in third, clocking a 7:03.48. Skricki, an Olympian in the same event in Sydney, also had to use the qualifier to make the team in 2000. She and her partner, Ruth Davidon, went on to finish fourth at the Games. Piotrowski will be looking to make her first Olympic team. In Lucerne, the duo will need to finish in the top two in order to make the Olympic Games.
The duo of Steve Tucker (Mooresville, Ind.) and Greg Ruckman (Cincinnati, Ohio), who were both members of the 2000 Olympic Team, swept the finals of the lightweight men's double sculls. Tucker and Ruckman stroked a 6:26.28 to defeat MLARC/NYAC's Gabe Winkler (St. Johnsbury, Vt.) and Rich Montgomery by 5.94 seconds. The Augusta Rowing Club duo of Michael Aller (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Shawn Stephenson (Raleigh, N.C.) finished third, clocking a time of 6:37.31. Tucker and Ruckman will need to finish in the top four in Lucerne in order to qualify for the Olympic Games.