2016 US Rowing Junior National Championships

2016 US Rowing Junior National Championships

One might be tempted to assume that the 2016 USRowing Junior National Championships were plagued by leprechauns. First was the unrelenting greenness of the Lake Mercer course with trees hovering out from the banks. Then, the cancellation of all racing on Thursday’s practice day eliminated the chance to fine-tune the rigging of the boats that the club borrowed for this distant regatta. Finally, in a very unusual circumstance late on Friday after a day of heat races, officials decided to cancel Sunday’s finals in anticipation of high winds.

The normal cadence of large, national and international rowing regattas (heats to repechage to semifinals to finals) was blown away and a streamlined plan put in place. Instead, the heats, which typically include six teams and are not that pivotal under normal circumstances, became the determining factor of which boats went on and which went home. The top three boats in each heat went on to Saturday morning’s semifinals; the fourth place finishers went directly to a Saturday C Final, and the other boats were eliminated.

Vashon juniors were entered in five events in this year’s nationals. Two boats (the women’s pair and lightweight double) qualified for the semifinals; one shell (the men’s double) went on to the C final, and two boats (the women’s double and lightweight eight) fell to the “one and done” aspect of this year’s event.

Early Saturday morning, the two Vashon women’s boats that had qualified for the semifinals both missed a top-three finish and thus were scheduled to row in the B finals early Saturday afternoon. Saving their best row for last, Rhea Enzian and Riley Lynch (pair) won their final — and overall seventh place in the nation — but not before adding a bit of drama at the finish. Ahead the entire 2,000-meter race they “caught a crab” (a rowing term that refers to one or both of the rowers getting their oar caught in the water at the end of the stroke and thus stopping the boat) with about 50 meters to go, recovered and still managed to cross the finish line first with less than a half-second margin.

In a separate race that same day, Maddie McEachern and Virginia Miller bolted from the starting line in their lightweight double, held the lead for most of the race, but yielded to one other boat in the last 250 meters for second place in their B final and eighth overall in the country.

Patrick Hanson and Forrest Miller rowed a strong C final race to a third-place finish and overall 15th place nationally.

The women’s double with Katrina Heffernan and Rhiannon Simmonds, and the lightweight women’s eight (Maya Gould — stroke, Lelah Assink, Tiffany Huestis, Mabel Moses, Emma Greenlee, Sam Zeigler, Ivy Jaguzny, Brigit O’Rourke and coxswain Josie Slade) fell victim to the unusual weather circumstances and were eliminated after their rows in Friday’s heat round.

Summing up the regatta, Coach Richard Parr said the competition was rough, but the young rowers did well.

“This was a really difficult championships, affected by the howling winds and general disorganization of the event. This Vashon team — which overall is quite young — performed very well despite the adversity, especially our women’s pair and lightweight double.”

Looking ahead to next season, Parr was enthusiastic about the team.

“The team is in transition with our graduating seniors moving on,” he said. “It’s always hard to lose our veterans, both as rowers and role models. But the future is very exciting. We’re a young team, and I’m really excited to start the new season in August. ”

Article by Pat Call

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