PHOTO AND STORY BY LIZ HINLEY
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The top six boats from the first day of the 2021 USRowing Central Youth Championships experienced a signature Oklahoma City challenge on Sunday for finals day: mother nature.
Conditions grew challenging with a heavy crosswind as finals proceeded to make things difficult for rowers and coxswains alike. In the women’s youth novice eight two crews were unable to lock onto the holding platform and were excluded from the results.
In addition to the struggles caused by the wind and the course itself gave rowers trouble with work having to be completed on the buoys forcing the cancellation of two races.
Newport Aquatic Center had an exceptional performance taking first place in twelve of the events including the women’s U17 and youth novice eight, women’s youth quad, men’s youth novice eight, and men’s double.
Texas Rowing Center won six events including the men’s youth second varsity double, men’s U17 double, women’s U17 quad, and a finish by the lone entry in the youth inclusive double.
Tying Norcal Crew with three wins was Chicago Rowing Foundation who took first place in both the men’s and women’s youth eights.
“All the work that we did leading up to this. We knew we had it,” said Guy Ryan and Liam Dooley of the Chicago men’s youth eight.
“We do a lot of sprint work and 1ks. We row on a river, so there’s a lot of turns. You have to go to certain spots on the river where it’s straight. Once we hit those spots, we find out how fast we are going. It really helped set us up to do well today.”
“Ever since Covid hit, [we’ve] been doing everything we can to stay as sturdy as possible and stay working as a team,” said Chloe Walsh, the coxswain for Chicago’s women’s eight. “The second we line up and look around, we know exactly what we are doing. We are very confident in our rhythm. I think the second we hit that saddle we knew we had it in the bag and that was it the whole way down the course.”
These crews were not the only teams feeling confident on the course despite the challenging conditions.
“It went well. For the first 500 [meters], we were pretty strong and then they started taking up seats on the other boats,” Liliana Bertoldi, Newport Aquatic Center’s men’s novice four coxswain said. “I definitely would say the sprint at the end for the last 250 is when they were moving a lot more and faster and the guys did really well overall.”
For most of the crews the next step will be the 2021 USRowing Youth National Regatta in June.
Results from the 2021 USRowing Central Youth Championships can be found here.