The 2014 USRowing Youth National Championships are getting underway in Sacramento, and it just wouldn't be us if we didn't shoot our mouths off about what we think is going to happen this weekend on Lake Natoma. While we can't cover every event this year—given the tremendous talent spread across a host of boat classes—we have a few ideas that we think you might find interesting. Shall we?
Despite the fact that Elizabeth Sharis is doubling up in the women's quad, Sharis—last year's silver medalist behind Cicely Madden (who has switched to sweep this year, racing for CRI in the pair and the eight)—is looking like the favorite to win the single this year, and could wind up on the podium twice. We are looking for Simone Framson of Seattle RC (also doubling up in the quad) to take the silver, with Emily Kallfelz of Narragansett rounding out the podium finishes. The latter two athletes went one-two in yesterday's heats, and had the first and second fastest times of the day in the event. Molly Hart, Megan Slabbert, Sara Clark, and Sallie Bowman should also be in the mix.
This year, Ben Davison—another very strong sculler from Conal Groom's program—is our favorite to win the event ahead of Jack Kelley of Jacksonville, with our pick for bronze going to Norwalk River's Kris Petreski (who came through the rep this morning). All three of the above are in the first of two semifinals set for this afternoon. We're also looking for Newport's Tyler Ashoff and Chris Tinsman of Y Quad Cities (a lightweight with an impressive erg, headed to Dartmouth this fall) to make the final.
Women's Lightweight Eight
The heat winners yesterday were Oakland, Long Beach, and Saugatuck, and this year's battle for the top of the podium looks to be similar—we're expecting it to come down to Oakland and Saugatuck for the gold, with LBJC and CRI duking it out for the final podium spot. Also look for Sarasota to make the final, along with Cincinnati Juniors.
Men's Lightweight Eight
Our pick to win the men's lightweight eight this year is 2014 Southwest Junior Regional champs Marin, but they will face a tough challenge from their California rivals from Newport AC, as well as a very tightly packed field including Belen Jesuit, Oakland, St. Joe's Prep, and Long Beach—given the heat times yesterday it looks like it will be a thrilling set of semis and finals. The semi this afternoon that includes Marin, St. Joe's, Oakland, and Long Beach will likely see a potential podium contender miss the final—an unfortunate draw, to say the least.
Women's Varsity Eight
Defending champions Marin have not had a strong regatta up to this point, but they can recover in the rep this afternoon—and never count out a Sandy Armstrong crew in crunch time. Still, our favorites to win this year are Oakland Strokes, with CRI (a lineup that includes last year's women's single champ Cicely Madden), PNRA/Mercer, Connecticut, and Saugatuck our other A Final probables this weekend (though this will require PNRA/Mercer, Marin, and Saugatuck to come through the reps successfully this afternoon, and put together a good semi tonight).
Men's Varsity Eight
Regional champs Oakland has looked like the class crew so far this spring, and we don't see any reason not to take them to win the title this year. Marin is a tough, battle-hardened group of racers, and will certainly be in the mix, as will Central Catholic, CRI, and Long Beach Junior Crew (who posted the second fastest time of the day yesterday in a walkway heat victory). What we're expecting is a very tightly packed field—more so than in recent years—but for Oakland to have the edge with the lesser medals up for grabs between a number of very solid crews. (We're giving the nod to Marin for the silver given the semifinals, which will pit Oakland, LBJC, Central Catholic, and Green Lake against one another in semi 2.)
A Few Extras
While Elizabeth Sharis is doubling up, we still expect that Y Quad Cities will win the women's quad—the crew is very talented, with sub-7 minute power in the stroke seat (Emily Delleman), as well as Stanford-bound Callie Heiderscheit. We're expecting Pacific to be in the medals in the women's varsity four, duking it out with Deerfield for the top spot in the nation, while the Newport AC men's varsity four looks poised to back up their regional bronze medal with a national title, likely battling Belmont Hill and another Pacific crew for the podium. Mia Croonquist (2011 RoRy winner for Female Junior Athlete of the Year) is racing in the double with Vashon Island—and posted the fastest time in the event yesterday in the heats. Look for Vashon to take the title in the women's double this year.
It's already heating up in Sacramento, and we can't wait to see the 2014 national champions crowned tomorrow! Best of luck to all crews, and we'll be on the scene for the finals—look for a recap and review to come early next week. In the meantime, bring it!
For complete results, schedules, and race information, please visit the official website of USRowing.