Press "Enter" to skip to content

Better Conditions, Fast Racing on Second Day of Olympic Trials II

STORY AND PHOTOS BY ED MORAN

West Windsor, N.J. – After watching Michelle Sechser and Molly Reckford race the lightweight double during the first Olympic Trials in Sarasota, Florida, in February, Gevvie Stone was expecting a battle Tuesday morning on Mercer Lake.

Stone, rowing with her Cambridge Boat Club partner Kristina Wagner in the women’s double, drew Sechser and Reckford in their heat and lined up next to them on the second day of Olympic Trials II.

Sechser and Reckford did not disappoint. Right from the start, the two crews fought their way down the course, with Stone and Wagner crossing the finish first in 7:21.45 and the lightweight women right behind them in second in 7:23.15, the two best times of the four heats in the event.

Stone and Wagner moved directly into the Wednesday semifinals, while Sechser and Reckford had to row again Tuesday afternoon in the reps to advance.

“We expected Michelle and Molly to be fast and they proved us right,” said Stone. “We know they’re fast from what they did in Sarasota. It was fun to have a competitive enough field that you have to work hard in the heat. It’s fun to go side-by-side down the course.”

It was not as much fun for Sechser and Reckford since they had to row twice in one day just ahead of a semifinal race in the morning. The schedule was not originally set up that way, but the weather this week is challenging.

The Monday opening time trials were run in a cold rain and by Monday evening the weather forecast for Thursday forced changes in the week’s schedule. Instead of holding the reps Wednesday and the semifinals Thursday, the Thursday schedule was wiped out and everything but the Friday finals were moved up.

Still, Sechser and Reckford went to the repechage and advanced to the semifinal. 

“We’ve been training through it because our goal is [the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta] Lucerne, but I think we both like going into races with the attitude of try to win every single time you are on the water,” Reckford said.

“It’s a very exciting feeling. I don’t think I expected to have done what we did today, just in terms of percentages of times. These are all athletes I’ve looked up to for a long time and it’s very cool to get to race against them and to test our speed against them.”

Also advancing from the reps were Ali Rusher and Mary Nabel, from Cambridge, Savannah Brija and Hannah Paynter from ARION, and the composite entry from Vesper Boat Club and Green Racing Project, Cristina Pretto and Emily Delleman.

The women’s double semifinal will take place Wednesday morning along with the repechage for the men’s quad.

The changes also impacted the para events, which were set to race in the finals Thursday. Those three events, the men’s and women’s PR1 singles and the PR2 mixed double will take not take place Wednesday and will result in the first three crews named to the 2021 Paralympic Team.

Tuesday morning saw four women’s double crews advance directly to the Wednesday semis out of four heats and four other advance from their Tuesday afternoon reps.

In addition to Stone and Wagner, the other crews that advanced directly were Jenifer Forbes and Sophia Vitas from the Princeton women’s U.S. training center, Cambridge Boat Club’s Margaret Fellows and Cicely Madden, and 2016 Olympians in the event, Ellen Tomek and Meghan OLeary.

“It’s been really great getting to race side by side again and especially against such a fast field” said O’Leary. “We’ve got so much talent in women’s sculling right now, and Ellen and I are excited to be racing this week.”

“It’s been really great getting to race side by side again and especially against such a fast field” said O’Leary. “We’ve got so much talent in women’s sculling right now, and Ellen and I are excited to be racing this week.”

-Meghan O’Leary

Following the women’s heat, two heats of men’s quads were run with two crews advancing to the Friday finals. The remaining two finals slots will be filled Wednesday morning.

Advancing from the first quad heat was the crew from the Oakland U.S. men’s training center with Oliver Bud, Spencer Furey, Andrew Gaard and Michael Knippen. 

“It’s just getting better, race to race,” said Knippen. “We’re out here working hard and it felt good. The opening after the first 250 is always a bit breezy, and we’re starting to handle it a little better each time down the course.”

All four men were part of the Oakland sweep group, but were not selected to the sweep selection camp and opted to try rowing in a quad together. 

“We were all shooting for the sweep camp and we got our lives set up in Oakland but ultimately didn’t get the invite down to Chula Vista,” Knippen said. “We came together as a crew and put together something we thought was worthwhile to bring to trials.”

From the second heat, the composite crew from Penn AC Athletic Club and the Schuylkill Navy of Charles Anderson, Justin Keen, Eliot Putnam, and Sorin Koszyk.

A full list of results can be found here.

Comments are closed.

Copyright 2020 The Independent Rowing News, Inc