Fierce semifinals racing at Mercer set tomorrow's finals at NSR II in the Men's and Women's Open Pairs and Doubles, with the winners eligible to compete at World Cup II in Poznan/Poland in June to lock in their national team spots.
Pacing the field in Semi 1 were Claire Collins and Maddie Wanamaker, who outdistanced their Princeton Training Center teammates Alina Hagstrom and Regina Salmons.
"Today was fun!" exclaimed Collins after the racing. "There were definitely some good nerves going into the race and we were excited to get back to being side by side with our teammates. We just took some deep breaths and zoned in on our boat and our rhythm. We really tried to work the middle of the race and make that solid. Definitely some improvements today and looking to make a few more tomorrow."
Semi 2 was won by Tokyo W8+ rowers Charlotte Buck and Jess Thoennes. "Jess and I made good improvements from the time trial," said Buck. "We were able to stay relaxed and execute our race plan. We're looking forward to tomorrow and are incredibly proud of all our teammates for making it to the final."
Thoennes & Buck
A few observers noted that "college uni day" seems to be morphing into "college uni WEEK" at NSR II. "We are just having fun mixing it up," explained Collins. "We have a few doubles of college unis, so we thought we would rep our school. So for example for us, I went to Princeton and Maddie went to Wisconsin so we were able to rep those two. It has been so fun seeing the college racing again this spring so maybe we were inspired!"
With previous long-serving national team head coach Tom Terhaar having moved on Columbia after the Tokyo Olympics, the USTC-Princeton group is being coached by longtime USRowing athlete and coach Laurel Korholz.
California Rowing Club's Justin Best and Michael Grady took their semi in a fairly comfortable margin today, ahead of their CRC teammate Pieter Quinton and Oliver Bub.
Grady & Best
"Grady and I took the day off to work on those few things I mentioned previously with 2 practices and some flat water; it definitely felt like we made those improvements and applied them today," said Best.
"It's encouraging to see the work we've been doing with Mike and Skip has us in a competitive position. Every CRC boat has made big improvements since coming together after NSR1's. We're all excited to race intra-squad in the final but also against the rest of the field. It will be a fun one to watch from the shores."
Knippen & LeRoux
CRC rowers Andrew LeRoux and Michael Knippen won semi 2.
The Men's pair featured the tightest racing "transfer spot" racing, with just two seconds between 3rd and 4th in both M2- semis.
Lightweights Sophia Luwis and Audrey Boerson won Semifinal 1, seemingly validating the strategy of getting as many races as possible here in advance of lightweight quad selection.
Boersen & Luwis
"It's always a different game when you race 6 lanes across and get to really see where your competition is," said Boerson. "Sophia and I set out secure a spot in the A Final, and to prove to ourselves that Tuesday's race wasn't a fluke. We've both had a lot of fun this week testing our limits and seeing where we measure up against everyone else. We're both so excited to race in the A Final and put it all out on the line. It's going to be a tight race all the way down the course and it's going to test everyone's mental and physical limits, and I'm thrilled to be in a position to have this opportunity."
NSR I Singles champ Kara Kohler and partner Sophia Vitas won the other semi in the event.
Vitas & Kohler
Andrew Gaard and Sorin Koszyk posted a slight upset in winning their semi today, ahead of the Vesper composite of Dominique Williams (3rd in the M1x at NSR I) and Jacob Plihal, and the pre-regatta favorites of Ben Davison and Chris Carlson. All three crews qualified for the final.
Gaard & Koszyk
In semi 2, Texas Rowing Center's Kevin Cardno and Jonathan Kirkegaard pulled out a narrow win over teammates Jasper Liu and Zach Heese, who qualified as the LM2x on Tuesday. The Vesper Composite of Michael Clougher and Chris Shirley was third.
Notes from the Course
There's a lot more than just World Cup spots on the line here this week however, as finishing orders, margins & times tomorrow will have an impact on big boat selection camp invitations.
From the 2022 USRowing Nat'l team selection procedures:
The following athletes earn automatic invitations [to Selection Camp I (Men, Women)]:
- Athletes of winning NSR boats (M1x, M2x, M2-, W1x, W2x, W2-) that decline to compete in World Cup II;
- Athletes of second placed boats (M1x, M2x, M2-, W1x, W2x, W2-), if within a margin of 3% of the winning boat;
- Athletes of third placed boats (M1x, M2-, W1x, W2-), if within a margin of 3% of the winning boat and winning boat declared their intent to compete in World Cup II;
The remainder of the athletes will be invited upon discretion of the Chief High Performance Officer.
The Time Trial results largely stood up today, with crews from the top two or three times on Tuesday coming through with Semifinal wins. The one exception was the aforementioned Gaard/Koszyk upset in the M2x. The CRC duo’s performance today improved on a 6th place Tuesday time, with the fastest time of the day to boot.
Kirkegaard & Cardno
The extra racing for the Women's Doubles that went through the rep was telling: none advanced today, though ARION's Veronica Nicacio and Megan Goodman came the closest, just three seconds out of moving on. Nicacio and Goodman did best one crew that had topped them in the Time Trial, so that extra 2k yesterday may have helped them find some more speed as they went through the week.
Two Boat "Truck" Finals all around: in a quirk of entry numbers and scratches, all but one event here (the M2x) wound up with a 2 boat dual race in its bottom level final. Both of tomorrow's B Finals in the pairs will be two boat affairs, while today's C Final of the W2x would up being just two crews as well. Brooke Ruszkiewicz and Ruthie Lacy from Oklahoma City took that dual, finishing 13th overall.