Tuesday, June 14, 2011

USRowing Youth Nationals: Marin Men Cap off Undefeated Season with Double Championship

The USRowing Youth National Championships took place over the weekend in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Marin men, whom we picked to win it all in this article from November, 2010, did just that, by open water over the field. In talking with Marin men's head coach Graham Willoughby after the racing was done, he mentioned that this was the first time that a team who had won the Head of the Charles has gone on to win the title in the men's eight at Youth Nationals. The only crew that might have made things intersting, St. Andrew's, was relegated to the petites after their boat came in under weight following the semis (though given the times in the semifinals, Marin was still on pace to take first by a solid margin). St. Andrew's will look to bounce back from this frustration at Henley Royal Regatta, which begins at the end of this month.

Marin's achievement also marked the first time that a single club has won the women's eight, men's eight, and men's lightweight eight at the same regatta. Needless to say, Sandy Armstrong was pretty pleased with her girls as well, as they avenged last year's loss to Connecticut Boat Club by over a length. The fought very well through a tough progression, and attacked the final with obvious hunger, forcing others to react – no one had an answer for the Marin move. While this might have been a surprise to some, no one predicted that James Madison would push CBC into third place. The James Madison crew, coached by Paul Allbright, held off last year's champion for the silver in what was James Madison's fourth 2000m race to date (being that JM is a scholastic program, they are accustomed to racing 1500m). Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this performance is the youth of the Madison team – the eight that took silver featured three sophomores and a freshman.

Speaking of freshmen, the Marin men's lightweight eight, coached by Patrick Schulkers, featured three of them, and was almost an entirely new lineup to the one that won at the Southwest Junior Regionals in May. Not only that, but five of the rowers were novices, including stroke Michael Brewer (a frosh novice, in fact). The coxswain, Riley Overfield, was also a freshman novice. The most experienced oarsman in the lineup, Tyler Browne (a decorated third year rower), had to be replaced due to injury by another freshman novice Daniel Nagler. Still, not only did they get it done, they progressed through the regatta without a margin smaller than a length. The battle for second place was between last year's winner, Marina AC, and Canisius HS – CHS edged MAC (who had graduated three of last year's eight, according to head coach Craig Webster) by roughly a seat to take the silver.

The fact is, the Southwest region in junior rowing dominated the sweep events in 2011. While the obvious big dog was Marin, Marina AC medaled in the men's lightweight eight (bronze) and women's four (silver), while Oakland Strokes took home the gold medal by open water in the men's four, as well as silver in the women's lightweight eight.

In the sculling events, new arrival Seattle Rowing Center, coached by US Olympian Conal Groom, burst onto the scene, taking the gold medal in the men's lightweight double, as well as the bronze in the women's double. GMS, led by head coach Günter Beutter, took home the gold in both the men's double and the women's quad – Beutter also coaches the US men's senior lightweight double, and brought a very well prepared team to the course in Oak Ridge last weekend. Also, in Nick D'Antoni's first season as head coach of the Long Beach Junior men, the team narrowly missed a medal in the men's double, and took 7th overall in the quad. Another standout performance came from the New Canaan squad, coached Yan Vengerovskiy. New Canaan won the men's quad over a talented Malvern Prep crew and finished 2nd in the men's lightweight four.

For multimedia race coverage that includes photos as well as links to new video interviews with Conal Groom, Sandy Armstrong, Graham Willoughby, Günter Beutter,  Liz Trond, and Paul Allbright, check out the coverage by Bryan on the official website of Rowing News magazine.

-RR

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