2015 Youth Regional Championships
Two and a half seconds. In this weekend’s NASCAR race that distance equated to about 700 feet. In the Preakness Stakes horse race about 130 feet. And in Sunday’s junior men’s four crew final, twelve feet. Rowing is a sport of perfection and repetition. Over the 2000 meter course twelve feet equates to an extra half inch per stroke. On Sunday Vashon’s crew of Cole Puckett (stroke), senior Jack Mask, Josh Davis, David Ngyuen and coxswain Callie Andrews dug deep but couldn’t find that extra half inch per stroke placing fourth and barely missing a trip to Junior Nationals in Florida in three weeks. A year’s worth of hard practicing and dieting came up just short. It was a relatively rare disappointment in an otherwise successful weekend of rowing that saw the junior crew consistently finishing in second place. In fact with 36 races rowed over the three-day event (including heats, timed finals and finals) Vashon’s crew placed second in half of them.
For Junior Varsity and Novice rowers this event is the season finale and the JV women’s double with Katrina Heffernan (stroke) and Caprial Turner (bow) made the most of their opportunity with a thrilling victory (and Vashon’s only gold medal) over rival Seattle Rowing Center that came down to a sprint over the last 100 meters. Silver medal winners in non-Nationals qualifying races were the women’s novice double and lightweight single and the men’s youth and novice coxed quads, men’s novice double, and high school eight. The women’s high school eight also took home the bronze. The high school eight races are the concluding races at the regatta and often feature rowers in elaborate costumes chanting and singing school fight songs at the starting line (and occasionally down the course).
Vashon took 35 rowers and coxswains to this event (18 women and 17 men) entering 24 boats in 22 events with all but five returning with a medal. Out of a possible 13 boats and 20 team members eligible for Nationals at the regatta’s conclusion, the team had qualified eight boats and 14 rowers. Vashon’s eight boats is the third highest in the nation behind Oklahoma with 16 and Seattle Rowing Center with 11. Silver medalists were the women’s lightweight double, pair and lightweight four and the men’s quad. Vashon also won bronze medals in the women’s lightweight double and men’s single and double. Rowers qualifying for Nationals are Fletcher Call, Ally Clevenger, Rhea Enzian, Kirsten Girard, Patrick Hanson, Kalie Heffernan, Shannon Lipe, Riley Lynch, Liam McConnell, Maddie McEachern, Emily Milbrath, Forrest Miller, Virginia Miller and KaiLi Scheer.
In his remarks following the regatta Richard Parr emphasized the team effort. “It is an incredible group of athletes and parents that create a program as successful as this one has become. Not only the results on the water but the sportsmanship off it are what make me so proud of this team. We will go to work to find several seconds per boat in the next three weeks as we prepare for Nationals.”
This year Nationals will be held in Sarasota, Florida on June 12, 13 and 14. The east coast venue is an especially expensive one for Vashon’s crew so a fish friendly car wash will be held Sunday June 7th at IGA market to support the trip.
By Pat Call.