The 50th anniversary of the largest rowing regatta in the world witnessed best ever results for Vashon’s junior, masters and recent alumni crew members. Starting in a wide and exposed tidal basin the course heads up river increasingly twisty and narrowing as it goes. With […]
Tag: Princeton University
Rowing in the US is the oldest, intercollegiate sport dating back to 1852 for men and 1875 for women. With such early and humble beginnings more than seven thousand women now participate in the sport annually. This year top teams met the weekend May 30 […]
VIRC sent five boats to compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA on October 20 and 21. The invitational is the largest regatta expo in the world, drawing thousands of rowers from around the globe and nearly 300,000 spectators. Vashon was placed in a lottery and ultimately selected, thus becoming one of the smallest rowing clubs to attend. This long standing regatta is known for the challenging five kilometer course that has three major turns and seven bridges to navigate under along the Charles River. “One of the big problems with the Head of the Charles is it’s hard to say how fast a boat really is”, said Coach Richard Parr. “With the turns, bridges and people in your way, it’s not unusual to have to stop to safely get through certain areas of the course. Strategy is every bit as important as speed in this one”, he said.
Gus Magnuson was the first Vashon rower to compete in the Men’s Club Single. Magnuson said he was nervous to be the first to race but excited at the same time. Rowing in a field of 64 scullers of various ages, Magnuson overtook two boats during his race to finish in 5th place among the youth competitors and 18th overall. “He did a phenomenal job”, said Parr. “He navigated traffic really well. Gus kept his head, was aggressive but knew where he was and what was around him.”
Masters Su DeWalt, Kim Goforth, Debby Jackson and Marilyn Klyen raced in the Director’s Challenge Women’s Quad, an event with highly skilled rowers, including Olympians. Although the Vashon women came in 17th, they were the fastest compared to other women in their age category.
Junior rowers Tate Gill and Baxter Call ran into trouble during the Men’s Youth Double race. They were penalized twice for failure to yield, something Coach Parr described as a harsh but fair call because the officials are very strict about that out on the course. “They had pretty heavy traffic. While trying to avoid a slower boat across a turn, a faster boat came up from behind. They didn’t leave enough room for the faster boat to go through”, said Parr. Their finish time would have put them in the middle of the field had they not had the three minute penalty.
Kalie Heffernan and Anna Ripley had a fine race in the Women’s Youth Double event, finishing 11th. Heffernan attributes their success to the stroke rate they maintained and having a clear path throughout the course. “We passed three boats overall. One at the start and two in the middle of the race”, said Heffernan. “I’m really glad at how well we did because finishing 11th out of 39 is pretty sweet.”
Wrapping up the weekend was the Women’s Youth Eight, a race that had 85 entries. Rowing for Vashon were Halimah Griffin, Maya Krah, Teagan Lynch, Emmie Kehoe, TerraJane Ripley, Kirsten Girard, Katelyn Carte, Bryn Gilbert and coxed by Ally Clevenger. Parr said they were fast but had major steering difficulties. In a borrowed shell from a Canada team, coxswain Clevenger was working with a boat that was very different than what she was used to. She had to stop three times to avoid collisions. Parr instructed the crew safety first above all else and Clevenger followed that to the rule. Parr said the boat clearly had good speed, as it still finished in the top half of its field.
The trip was a great experience for the team. They met Olympic and world champion rowers and coxswains and watched them race, along with former VIJC members who now row and coach at the collegiate level. The thrill of their own turn on the Charles River will not be soon forgotten. “I’m really proud of them. Effort-wise and sportsmanship-wise, they held their heads high”, Parr said.
Mia Croonquist, the celebrated teen rower who was part of a winning boat at the world championships last summer, hasn’t rowed much since bringing home her gold medal last August. The 15-year-old spent the last nine months attending high school in Hawaii. But now Croonquist is […]
Rowing on a lake that until recently was choked with silt and lily pads, the Vashon Island Rowing Club Masters dredged up a large shovel-full of hardware at last weekend’s Cascadia Masters Championship in Vancouver, B.C. VIRC rowed to four gold medal finishes on Burnaby […]
The heart of a rower: Attitude and athleticism take a Vashon girl far
Next week Mia, who is now 14 and has just a year and a half of rowing under her belt, will head to England as the youngest girl to ever compete with the U.S. team at the World Rowing Junior Championships. “It’s hard to imagine that all of this is happening so quickly,” Mia said last week, having just finished a day of training with the team at Princeton University. “It’s just amazing. It hasn’t all hit me yet.”
Mia, a 6-foot blonde with a sweet smile and a cheerful disposition, grew up on Inner Quartermaster Harbor, where she spent much of her free time swimming, waterskiing and wakeboarding with her two older brothers — one of whom went on to row for Santa Clara University.
The daughter of Tom Croonquist, director of development at University Village, and Elsa Croonquist, a marketing consultant, Mia excelled at basketball and soccer on Vashon but discovered a true talent for rowing almost as soon as she got out in a boat. Placed by the coach in a four-woman boat with other talented newcomers to the Vashon Island Junior Crew (VIJC), Mia and her teammates won all but a couple of races at regional regattas during her first year on the team, which included two seasons of competition. “I couldn’t have asked for better novice seasons,” she said.
Last season one of Mia’s boats — a women’s varsity quad with Avalon Koenig, Charlotte Kehoe and Alaina Williams — took first at the district rowing competition, qualifying them for the national championships, where they came in second. Mia — who says she loves being on the water, challenging herself physically and being part of a team — credits her previous experience in sports, in addition to her height and strength, as helping her excel on the water. VIJC coach Steve Full, a national champion rower from the University of Washington, agreed, calling Mia a well-rounded athlete who is extremely coachable. “A lot of times in rowing you get people who haven’t played a lot of sports. … a great characteristic of any rower is to have that ability to adapt, and that comes from having a background in other sports,” he said.
But perhaps most integral to Mia’s success, Full said, is simply her attitude. “She’s really mature for her age, but she also has a bubbly attitude,” he said. “She smiles a lot and always seems to be laughing. A carefree attitude really helps in rowing because the sport takes a lot of mental discipline. If you can’t be fun with yourself and fun with others, it becomes a drain.”
Liz Trond, a coach for the U.S. junior women’s team, also noticed Mia’s attitude when she began following her in the eighth grade. “She’s strong and well developed,” Trond said of the young rower, “and her maturity is unbelievable for a 14-year-old.”
Last summer Mia was invited to a national training camp to prepare her to try for the U.S. team, which she did at a selection camp this summer. Mia said she was thrilled to attend the camp in Connecticut, but believed her age and inexperience would prevent her from making the cut. “You don’t hear about a lot of young kids making it … and I was still kind of new,” she said.
Not only did Mia make the U.S. team, but coaches put her in the priority boat — the women’s four — where they place the team’s top athletes in hopes of medaling at the world competition. The other girls in the women’s four were also in the boat last summer when it came in second place. “It’s the best situation she could hope for, to be in a boat with three retuning silver medalists,” said Trond, who coaches Mia’s boat. And though training to aim for gold at worlds can put a large amount of pressure on the young athletes, Trond said, so far Mia has taken everything in stride. “She has done better than we even expected,” she said. “She has a good way of remaining very balanced, which is important in high-level sports.”
Just a week away from leaving for England, Mia seemed anxious to compete, but not at all worn down from training. “I wake up every morning and say, ‘Yay, I get row,’” she said. “I still look forward to it. It’s not like waking up and going to school.” Full believes it’s Mia’s pure love for the sport that has taken her far in crew and will continue to drive her success. “Her time in rowing will be endless, as long as her passion stays there,” he said. “She’ll not only have a great time rowing, but it will take her on quite an adventure. This is just the beginning.”
And though Mia seems to be happiest on the water and already plans to one day row at the collegiate level, she says she recognizes the huge commitment that crew has become, and recently made the decision to take a year off from the sport. “As much as I love crew, it is so intense,” she said. “Some people have warned me don’t burn out, save yourself for college. … I knew I kind of needed to take a break because I’ve pushed myself a lot to get where I am.” Mia’s time off from rowing will be an adventure in itself, though, as she plans to spend the next academic year at a boarding school in Kona, Hawaii, a place she and her father have visited and loved. Mia said she decided to leave Vashon because she has always loved Hawaii and she’ll have little time to travel while rowing in college. She added that it would be too tempting to row while still living on Vashon. “I’d be miserable knowing I had the opportunity to row and I wasn’t rowing,” she said. “Going to school in Hawaii lets me cross train and do track, or soccer or basketball again.”
Trond, who said she has enjoyed coaching Mia and hopes to see the women’s four place again at the world competition, said worlds is just the beginning of Mia’s rowing career. Though she’s still young, she said, she has the same abilities and work ethic that she has seen take other young athletes to the Olympics. “She’s got an incredible path, and certainly the path of an Olympian,” Trond said.
Mia is just one of several talented rowers to emerge from Vashon in recent years. In 2006, Tom Kicinski was the first high schooler from Vashon to be selected to compete for the U.S. at the world championships. And this year, VIJC sent a record four boats to the USRowing Youth National Championships in May, a number those who are close to the sport say is phenomenal for a team with less than 40 members. Olivia Sayvetz, a 2011 Vashon High School graduate, recently earned a scholarship to be a coxswain on Princeton University’s crew team and just missed qualifying to go to worlds with Mia. Emmie and Charlotte Kehoe were also chosen to compete on highly selective teams at the USRowing Club National Championships, and Gus Magnusson participated in a preparatory West Coast training camp at the Seattle Rowing Center.
“It really comes down to the attitude we have,” Full said of Mia and the rest of the Vashon crew. “They discover they have a real passion for rowing, and once they discover they have the ability, they go get it.”
As reported by NATALIE JOHNSON
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Reporter
Jul 26 2011, 12:32 PM
Vashon rowers earn spots on selective national teams Three high school rowers who attended highly selective national training camps held across the nation were recently chosen to compete on national teams. Mia Croonquist was selected to row on the U.S. team at the World […]