Friday, June 12, 2015

2015 USRowing Youth Nationals in Full Swing at Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota

Newport Aquatic Center blades at Nathan Benderson Park (Photo: A. Mihaylo)
Nathan Benderson Park may be getting more than its fair share of rain lately (can you send some out to California, please?), but that's not going to slow down the fastest juniors in the U.S. this weekend at the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships.

The racing is already underway, and so far a few of the heavy hitters have already turned in some strong performances on the water, notably Emily Kallfelz (Narragansett) and Elise Beuke (Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association) in the women's single (also, Seattle Rowing Center's Georgia Gray fell somewhat unexpectedly to third in the closest heat of the morning). Meanwhile, another Seattle Rowing Center athlete, Andrew Morley, posted the fastest time of the day in Heat 2 of the men's single and looks to be in good shape going forward.

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Kallfelz is doubling up in the, er, double, with her sister Eliza, so look for Narragansett to be very competitive there as well—they'll likely face their toughest competition in the form of Y Quad Cities' entry, with a lineup featuring 2014 women's single champ Elizabeth Sharis and her sister Caroline. Last year, it was the Campbell sisters that took home the gold—seems like the women's double is turning into a real family affair. On the men's side, Heat 1 of the double was among the closest finishes of the day, with Brookline edging GMS by less than a second, and San Diego Rowing Club just over a second behind the leaders in third place.

Moving to the quads, again Y Quad Cities, coached by Peter Sharis, looks to be the crew to beat this year (both Sharis sisters will be on board, as well as Emily Delleman, who boasts a 6:49 erg and raced in the JW4x last year for the U.S.), though their time was matched by a strong New Canaan entry featuring, you guessed it, one of the Campbell sisters (Claire, with Mary now a rising sophomore at Brown University). And, looking at the heat times, things could get interesting between Seattle Rowing Center and Y Quad Cities on the men's side as well—the Y Quad Cities group features Princeton-bound Matt Doyle, whose 6:12 at 172 pounds at stroke seat will make for a rear-wheel drive crew.

Turning our attention to sweep rowing, Deerfield looks on point in both the men's and women's fours (as usual), though looking at the other heat times in the women's four, Upper Natoma posted a very quick time (fastest of the day at 7:11) to win their Heat 4, while Connecticut Boat Club took Heat 2 in 7:13. Things could get very interesting in the semifinals. River City and Green Lake were both hard luck losers, both posting times to finish second that would have won other heats handily. Heat 2 of the men's fours was impressive, with Bromfield Acton Boxborough (say that three times, fast) winning in the event's fastest time of 6:27, just under a second ahead of Old Lyme.

The lightweight eights saw a photo finish in Heat 2 on the women's side, with Cincinnati Juniors taking first, and Holy Names coming in second roughly three tenths of a second ahead of Greenwich Crew. We're looking forward to more close racing among the lightweights, though the clear favorite emerging from the heats was Saugatuck, with the fastest time of the day by a significant margin. The men's lightweight eights are upcoming at time of writing, but we're looking at CRI, Long Beach, and Southwest Junior Regional winners NorCal Crew, though Canisius is typically strong in this event as well.

In the heavyweight eights, our pick to win the women's eight from the early season has been Saugatuck, a program that looks ready to climb all the way to the top after a near miss last season, with PNRA/Mercer in the mix, Marin, OKC Riversport, Holy Names and Marina Aquatic Center likely to make some noise. On the men's side, we're betting (not literally, of course) on Oakland Strokes to take the title—first-year head coach Brian de Regt has done an excellent job with the crew this year, and they're quite accustomed to close racing, coming out of the Southwest region. We're also looking for Marin to be mixing it up with the leaders, as well as PNRA/Mercer, CRI, and Nick D'Antoni's Newport Aquatic Center as favorites to make the finals. One caveat is the unpredictability of the weather—will there be a home field advantage for Florida crews?

More to come as the weekend progresses. In the meantime, hit us up on Instagram for a chance to be featured right here on RR—tag us and use the hashtag #rowingrelated to get involved!

For complete results from USRowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota, follow the link. 

Good luck to everyone racing, and go fast!

-RR

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