Junior Nationals 2013
Melton Hill Lake near Oak Ridge, Tennessee was the site of the 2013 National Junior Rowing Championships this past weekend, June 7th through 9th. Vashon’s young rowers qualified eight boats – fifth most in this year’s championship. By Sunday, all boats qualified for a final race, achieving three top ten finishes and one bronze medal.
Since Vashon travels across the country and rents its rowing shells from the Sykes boat manufacturer, the team members decided to have some fun with boat names. Most boats are named after the donors who provided them or trot out an inspirational cliché , but juniors tipped over the creativity meter with names like “The Mantis Shrimp”, “2K Banana Slug” “The Asylum”, and “The Boat Formerly Named Prince”. However if the District Championships were a beach party then the Nationals had more the overall feel of an accounting convention. So the juniors got down to business.
Friday is for Heat races. In a format unique to rowing only the winning boat of each heat race advances to Saturday’s semifinals. The other boats are then scrambled again and another round of repechage (or second chance) heats are rowed either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. The top two boats in each of the second races go on to the semi-final with the third place boat (plus the next two boats by overall time) going to the C final on Sunday. After the first two rounds of racing Vashon had four boats into the semi-finals and four into C finals, however that tally doesn’t quite tell the whole success story. In 2012 Vashon’s juniors won some very tight races (in one case by 18 milliseconds); in 2013 it was the reverse: two boats missed the semi-finals by a total of a half second.
Saturday’s semi-finals further break the field into Sunday’s A and B finals with the three fastest shells in each semifinal going to the A final. When Saturday’s racing was done Vashon had one crew heading to an A final with three boats going to B finals.
On Sunday the team’s morale was high, the early regatta jitters transformed into steely resolve. The results speak for themselves.
Gus Magnuson and Tate Gill rowed a powerful Men’s Open Double race to take the bronze medal (and keep the club’s three year medal streak alive).
Kalie Heffernan and Kirsten Girard placed 7th overall winning the B final in the Women’s Open Double.
The Lightweight Women’s four with Emily Milbrath, Katelyn Carter, Shannon Lipe, Leanne Anderson and coxswain Ally Clevenger took 8th overall (second in the B final). It is unlikely that any other boat in the regatta placed so high with two novice rowers on board.
Anne Gaspers braved early morning fog and a very competitive field to row her single (the Baby Giraffe) to 12th place in the nation.
Nathaniel Petram and Baxter Call roared back from a close loss in the semi-final to take the C final by open water and a 13th place national finish.
Lipe and Carter in their Women’s Lightweight and the Women’s Open Quad with Heffernan, Anna Ripley, Hannah Russell and Girard both placed 14th.
The Men’s Open quad of Magnuson, Gill, Jacob Plihal and Isaiah Mosser-Rohe took fifth in their C final and 17th in the nation.
Coach Richard Parr summed up the National Championships and the season by saying: “I am extremely proud of our rowers who distinguished themselves this year on and off the water. Our kids and not only great athletes but also great citizens and representatives of Vashon on the national stage. We lived up to our performances from the District competition and we showed ourselves to be a “top ten” program. We’ll start working this summer to find that extra 10 to 15 seconds we need to be in the top three across the board.”
A successful end to the 2012 – 2013 junior season.