Saugatuck rowers break record
Eight girls from the Saugatuck Junior Rowing Club in Westport broke two National records last weekend outside of Cincinnati. Saugatuck was one of only a handful of teams that sent 9 or more boats to National Championship. For the first time ever, an individual club succeeded in qualifying two boats for the Grand Finals in the same event when Saugatuck performed the feat in the Junior Women's quad event. No one could have predicted this back in September when the girls head coach quit on the first day of practice. A recently hired assistant coach stepped into the head coach position. Coach Richard Klein rowed at Saugatuck when he was in high school and loves to compare his notes on high school teachers with his rowers who have some of the same teachers. Klein rowed at Jr. Nationals with his Saugatuck team and then went on to row with the US National Rowing Team. Although he had never coached on a full time basis he treated all his girls like National Team rowers and inspired them to give their best with amazing results.
The experience and expertise of the rowers was challenged by the weather conditions. Initial heats on the 11th challenged the rowers with a strong head wind. Semifinalists faced gusty winds and thunderstorm delays last Saturday. Finalists contended with extremely high water levels from the prior evening's heavy rains on Sunday. Of its nine boats, Saugatuck had six boats qualify for the Grand Finals and two of these boats came home with medals in addition to setting two event records.
The first record was broken on Saturday when Saugatuck qualified two boats for the same final. No club has ever done this at Junior Nationals. The same eight girls broke a second record in the Grand Final race. Prior to this race, no junior women's quad had ever broken seven minutes at this 2,000 meter race. In the record setting final, Saugatuck placed second with a time of 6:52 and fourth with a time of 6:59 in the Junior Women's Quad Grand Final. Susan Greenberg (Westport), Melly Markovic (Fairfield), Lizzy Youngling (Westport), and Alex Zadravec (Fairfield) earned the silver medal and Nicole Lomas, Breezy Ferrara, Sam Smolka (Westport) and Kathleen Taylor placed fourth. Four of the eight quad rowers had also qualified in an additional boat, but these girls had all relinquished their smaller boat bids to focus on the team quads. Greenberg qualified in a single, Zadravec and Markovic qualified together in a double and Smolka qualified in a pair. Sam's seat in the pair was taken over by Georgina Pinter. In spite of the last minute substitution, the pair of Pinter and Nicole Wells still made its way to the Grand Final and placed sixth.
Max Meyer-Bosse (Westport) and Graham Anderson (Weston) earned gold in the Men's Double. This is the second year in a row that Meyer-Bosse has won gold in this event. Last year Meyer-Bosse medaled with Owen Traynor, who now rows for Brown University. The Men's Lightweight 4 of Gregory Zales, Max Malec, Ryan Shimizu Marco Grant and Max Gibson, placed fifth. The Women's Lightweight Double of Sarah Frear and Celine Bondoc placed fifth in their Grand Final.