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On to Poland and Selection Camp For NSR II Top Performers

PHOTO AND STORY BY ED MORAN

While most of the winners at the USRowing National Selection Regatta II Friday morning were trying to decide what the best next steps for them should be in this unfolding 2022 season, Claire Collins and Madeleine Wanamaker knew exactly what they were going to do.

They are taking advantage of the opportunity to race at World Cup II in Poznan, Poland, and hope for a high enough finish to be named directly to the U.S. team that will race at the World Rowing Championships, September 18-25 in Racice, Czech Republic.

A high enough finish would be finish top six, or if there are fewer than 12 entries, finish in the top 50 percent. And given that Wanamaker and Collins won a final that included five other Princeton Training Center pairs, they feel confident about their international opportunity.

“It was definitely good to seal the deal, have a good race, and in perfect water,” Wanamaker said. “So it was a good day. World cup in the pair is the first on the docket, so we’ll see how it goes.  That was kind of the goal. I’ve been having a great time rowing with Claire and I think we would like to keep that partnership together, so it’s great that we are in a position now that we can do that.”

Three other crews that raced in the four A finals Friday, plus the men’s and women’s lightweight doubles that raced uncontested Tuesday—Michelle Sechser and Molly Reckford, and Zach Heese and Jasper Liu—have all earned the right to race in Poznan, next month.

Besides Wanamaker and Collins, the California Rowing Club men’s pair of Justin Best and Michael Grady; the Texas Rowing Club’s men’s double of Kevin Cardno and Jonathan Kirkegaard; and the Texas Rowing Club women’s double with Kara Kohler and Sophia Vitas, all won their final and are deciding which is the next best move for them.

Their choices are going to Poznan and vie for a direct spot on the 2022 World Championship team or go to one of the two selection camps that will begin next week in Sacramento, Calif., and Mercer, New Jersey, from which the athletes will travel to Europe as a U.S. squad and race in Poznan and the Henley Royal Regatta this spring will be chosen.

After racing, it sounded like both the men’s heavy double and the men’s pair were leaning toward racing together in Poznan, but were holding off in announcing what they would be doing.

“I thought it was a solid race,” said Best. “I am glad to see there is a really solid field out there. But as far as the race went, Grady and I did exactly what we wanted to do. We had a really solid start and we wanted to capitalize on that.

“We put our bow ball out in front and just kind of took control of the race. We went through our moves, which I was really excited about because we wanted to kind of save that for the final day. So, each call Grady made, the boat responded, and we saw a drop in speed.”

“I thought it was a solid race,” said Best. “I am glad to see there is a really solid field out there. But as far as the race went, Grady and I did exactly what we wanted to do. We had a really solid start and we wanted to capitalize on that.

Best said the decision on Poznan would come later. “We’ll be talking with our coaches and maybe [Chief USRowing High Performance Director Josy Verdonkschot] to talk about the potential for World Rowing Cup in the pair. It depends on the conversation today, but for right now, we’ll see.”

After their race in the men’s double, Cardno said, “Racing was good. JP and I have been working on a lot of things back home with the lightweight and today was just executing that to the best of our ability. I think we’re stoked about that. I think our plan is to stick with the double, but we’ll talk to Peter, but I think that is the plan.”

For Kohler and Vitas the decision is a bit more complicated. Kohler won the first NSR in the single and can elect to race that in Poznan. They were seriously challenged this week by the unaffiliated-Whitemarsh Boat Club composite crew of Sophia Luwis and Audrianna Boersen, who went toe-to-toe with the Texas open weights and finished just .48 seconds behind them in second.

“We won like we wanted to,” said Kohler. “We have some mixed feelings about the race. We definitely feel like we could be a lot faster. We got matched up against some really fast lightweights gone heavyweight, lightweights who are really good at rowing, so really good job to them for a great regatta and everyone else. We feel like we definitely have more speed in us, but we’re still happy we won.”

TRC HP head coach Peter Mansfeld later explained that the program will race at World Cup II with Kohler and Vitas in the women’s double, Cardno and Kirkegaard in the men’s double, Zach Heese and Jasper Liu in the lightweight men’s double, and Jimmy McCullough in the men’s single.

One other athlete who raced in the men’s double entry for California Rowing Club, Ben Davison, who finished third with Chris Carlson, will join the world cup team in Poznan. Davison won the single at NSR I and earned the right to row the single. Davison said that is what he will do.

Davison suffered a back strain just before these trials and will now spend time recovering and preparing.

“Single for sure,” Davison said. “It’s worth a try. I’ve been trying it now for a while, but never actually given it a proper go and I’ve got six weeks now to get the back healthy again and give it a good go. I’ve got nothing to lose. Who knows? After that, I can always come back to camp if need be and try and join a team boat. But it’s worth a go.”

* Coverage brought to you by Gemini.

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