Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 USRowing Youth Nationals: RR Recap and Review

The sun breaks through on Sunday, Melton Lake (Photo: B. Kitch) 
The 2012 edition of USRowing Youth Nationals was an impressive example of the state of rowing at the high school level, with very talented and technically proficient crews taking home top honors in Oak Ridge. Prior to the racing, we did our research and put together what we felt would be a strong set of picks for every event. Let's take a look at how it all turned out, shall we?

The sculling events saw consistently good performances from GMS, headed up by Günter Beutter, with phenom Rosie Grinalds taking home two gold medals within two hours (as we predicted), in the women's single and women's quad. We were five-of-six in our picks for the women's single final, and two-of-three in the medals, as Cicely Madden of CRI placed third (as we predicted), but our pick for fourth, the 14-year-old standout Elizabeth Sharis from Y-Quad Cities (and daughter of Harvard grad and 1992 US Olympian Peter Sharis) had an outstanding regatta, taking silver and adding to her already impressive rowing resume (which includes a world record on the erg for her age group).

In the men's single, we successfully predicted four-of-six A Finalists, and again two-of-three medalists, with our picks for second and third, Chris Wales of Seattle Rowing Center and Bobby Vernazza of Serra HS, moving up a place on the podium into gold and silver medal position. Anthony Criscitiello of Nereid BC (in Nutley, NJ) took third place overall, while out pick for gold, Oliver Salonna of Dallas, fell to sixth place.

The lightweight sculling events, were, well, somewhat difficult to predict. Despite our research, we were only able to pick one-of-six finalists in the women's lightweight double, with our predicted winner, CRI, taking fourth place overall. The first place crew, Emma Landauer and Marygail Dibuono of Pelham Community, was one of a number of strong results from the Pelham Community program over the weekend. In the men's light double, however, we were more successful, picking three-of-six finalists, with our pick to win, GMS, taking silver behind Pacific's Jeff Wang and Jovanni Stefani (whom we mentioned as a potential contender for the A Final).

In the women's double, we again picked five-of-six finalists, and two-of-three medalists, with our top pick, Louisa Freeman and Joanna Gurman of Saugatuck, taking bronze behind the LBRA combination of Jilian Mcgill and Mackenzi Sherman, and Katherine Newmarker and Reilly Hayes of Long Beach Juniors, respectively. The men's double saw our picks for first, second, and fourth do just that, with Narrangansett's Chase Buchholz and Richard Wagner taking first place overall ahead of Ryan Bingham and Gus Magnuson of Vashon Island.

The women's pair final saw all six of our picks battling for a place on the podium, with our top pick, Kendall Chase and Alana Bobka of Mile High, taking home the gold medal. MAC took second, while our pick for third, Upper Natoma, didn't disappoint on Melton Lake. The men's pair final we went three-for six, but picked two-of-three medalists, with our picks for first and second, Saratoga and Los Gatos, trading places–Jordan Vanderstoep and John Chuter of Los Gatos took home the gold, with Saratoga some five seconds back in silver medal position.

In the women's quad, we picked five-of-six finalists, with our picks for first and third, GMS and Seattle Rowing Center, holding up their end of the bargain. Another strong entry from Pelham Community took silver, spoiling our pick of Long Beach (LBRA), who took fourth overall. On the men's side, we were four-for-six, with our predicted winner, New Canaan, taking gold in Oak Ridge.

The men's and women's lightweight fours were again difficult to predict. While we again picked five-of-six finalists on the women's side, and two-of-three medalists in Upper Natoma (our pick for first, finished second) and Manhasset (our pick for second, finished first), the men's lightweight four did not play out the way we anticipated. Our top pick, Norcal, ended up in the C-Final, partly due to an incident of food-poisoning in the crew at the outset of the regatta. Still, we picked two-of-six finalists, and mentioned McCallie as a crew to watch–they proved to be just that, finishing second behind first-place Cincinnati.

We picked three-of-six A Finalists in the women's four, though our picks for first and sixth switched positions, with Commencement Bay taking home the gold, and Mile High rounding out the final. In the men's four, we were five-for-six, with two-of-three medalists once again, this time in the form of Belmont Hill taking silver and Los Gatos (our predicted winner) taking bronze, behind our pick for fourth place, Deerfield.

In the eights, our predictions were strong across the board. The women's lightweight eight was dominated by our top pick, Oakland Strokes, who took the event by nearly 12 seconds ahead of Southwest regional rival, Capital Crew. The men's lightweight eight saw a resurgent Marin take a victory of a length over a tightly packed field, with our predicted winner, Long Beach Juniors, sprinting like mad for a silver ahead of our pick for third place, St. Joseph Prep. In the heavyweight eights, our top two played out as expected, with another excellent Oakland Strokes crew coming back from a narrow defeat by Marin at Southwest Regionals to claim the top spot by more than seven seconds. Marin took second place, ahead of Cincinnati, who were stronger than we had anticipated, not only making the final but medaling. The men's heavyweight eight saw an extremely composed and skilled crew from Marin execute very well despite major distractions and delays, as they were involved in a collision in the warm-up area that destroyed their steering and forced them to return to the dock (and that resulted in two injuries in the Saugatuck boat with whom MRA collided–best wishes to those athletes), pushing back the final for over an hour. Still, the Marin crew pushed out to a lead in the second 500m, continuing to move away at base in the second half of the race, while the battle for second and third place was intense–ultimately, our picks for first (Marin), second (Sarasota), and third (Mt. Baker), played out as expected, with Marin some five seconds up on the field.

For complete results, please visit the official website of USRowing.

Congratulations to all those who raced over the weekend, and let me say that we're very encouraged by the level of talent and dedication in the junior ranks today.

-RR

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