Last weekend the Vashon Island Rowing Club medaled in 25 of the 43 races they entered at the 18th Annual Covered Bridge Regatta. The regatta, a high school, collegiate and masters event, draws rowers from Washington, California, Arizona, Idaho and Oregon, creating a large field of 1400 competitors. Dexter Lake, where the competition takes place, is nestled among rolling buttes, vast grass farms and flowering orchards in a valley south of the city of Eugene, Oregon. The iconic covered bridge, now a historic landmark, sits south of the start line on the eight-lane course, a 2,000-meter length for junior and collegiate crews and 1000 meters for masters races.
Vashon Island Junior Crew rowers earned eight first-place medals, the first two going to single scull racers Ryan Bingham and Avalon Koenig. The club’s new rowers showed their strength by placing first in the novice men’s and women’s four events. In the boy’s boat were Ben Zaglin, Nathaniel Petram, Charles Eliott and Patrick Hanson, coxed by Ally Clevenger. In the girl’s boat, coxed again by Clevenger, were Bryn Gilbert, Kirsten Girard, Maya Krah and Taegan Lynch. “Our ‘novies’ have done an awesome job,” said coach Richard Parr. The junior men’s varsity quad, coxed by Sarah Warner, with rowers Baxter Call, Tate Gill, Gus Magnuson and Bingham, came across the finish an impressive 11 seconds ahead of the field. On Sunday, Jack Mask and Zaglin placed first in the junior men’s JV double, while the women’s JV four crew, Hannah Russell, Anna Ripley, Lynch and Gilbert, clinched first under the direction of coxswain Rayna Shinn.
VIJC garnered six medals for second-place finishes. Zaglin, Eliott, Petram and Hanson, with coxswain Clevenger, took second in the junior novice quad. Two boats competed in separate heats and each finished second in the junior women’s varsity double category: Koenig and Kehoe in heat one and Katelyn Carter and TeraJane Ripley in the other. The junior women’s JV eight, with Ella McConnell, Kelsey Abella, Anne Gaspers, Kalie Heffernan, Russell, Anna Ripley, Girard and Shannon Lipe, with coxswain Shinn, missed placing first by a heartbreaking one-tenth of a second. On Sunday, Gaspers, Girard, Heffernan, Kai Li Scheer and coxswain Clevenger took second place in the junior women’s novice quad. Call and Gill brought the final second-place win in the junior men’s varsity double.
Three third-place finishes rounded out the weekend for the junior team, including the junior women’s JV double, rowed by Abella and Scheer. “Kai Li and Kelsey did a great job,” Parr said. “It was a really solid third place and a tough race against some big girls.” Bingham and Magnuson took third in the junior men’s varsity double, as did the junior women’s varsity eight. The crew, with Gilbert, Carter, Lynch, Koenig, TeraJane Ripley, Charlotte Kehoe, Krah and Halimah Griffin, coxed by Warner, were crushed when their boat crossed the finish line a mere half-second behind the first-place boat.
Vashon’s junior crew tied with another team for third in the regatta’s Juniors Efficiency Trophy, an award based on the number of points earned divided by the number of race entries, essentially equalizing team sizes against racing results.
Vashon master rowers also won eight medals over the weekend. The women’s master quad clinched first with rowers Lisa Huggenvik, Su DeWalt, Holly Zappel and Kim Goforth. The mixed master eight, coxed by Heather Dow and rowed by Huggenvik, DeWalt, Gary Schoch, married rowers Ed and Holly Zapel, Mark McKallor, Goforth and Steve Haworth, also took first. A second-place finish went to the women’s master four boat, with Debby Jackson, Zapel, Gofroth and Dewalt, again coxed by Dow.
Adding to the medal count were five third-place awards: The men’s master double, with Chad Magnuson and McKallor, the mixed master double, again with Magnuson and Huggenvick — who had last rowed a double two years ago — the men’s master four with Schoch, Jim Hauser, Zapel and Haworth, and the women’s master double with Therese Smith and Mary Rothermel. Parr commented that the masters “are certainly fit.”
For master rower Steve Haworth, who placed third in the men’s master single, the thrill was more than the race. It was his competition, Tiff Wood, perhaps the most famous rower in the Northwest. Wood was the U.S. men’s singles champion in 1980 and headed to the Summer Olympics in Moscow the year that President Jimmy Carter enacted a boycott of the games in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The dispirited athlete made the tough decision to continue training, enduring the physical pain known to few other sports, and try for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, only to miss qualifying by the length of the small bow ball on the front of the boat. His story has been epitomized in the 1985 novel The Amateurs, by well-known author David Halberstam.
Recognizing the entire team’s efforts, Parr closed the weekend by telling the group, “For a small club, and how many clubs that were here, we got lots of metals. I think the winner goes to Ally (Clevenger) with four. … All in all, a pretty good hit-out for the first real go of the year.”