STORY COURTESY USROWING | PHOTO BY LISA WORTHY
The U.S. won the gold medal in the lightweight men’s pair and won bronze medals in both the men’s and women’s four with coxswain on Saturday at the 2023 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
In the lightweight men’s pair, the U.S. duo of Jackson Fuller (Winter Park, Fla./United States Naval Academy) and Mason Banks (Westport, Conn./United States Naval Academy) grabbed a slight lead 500 meters into the race and then pulled out to a 3.51-second lead as the crews hit the halfway point. Italy made a small push in the third quarter of the race, but the Americans were able to maintain their lead and powered their way to the line for nearly a four-second victory.
“Coming off the race for lanes, we knew exactly what we needed to do differently. It was a really tight race, and we had a lot of confidence coming into this final,” Fuller said. “We just put it together and executed what we needed to.”
Fuller and Banks won the race in a 6:36.37, with the Italian duo of Francesco Bardelli and Stefano Pinsone taking silver in a 6:40.17. Serbia’s Matija Rajkovic and Dusan Belic finished third in a 6:48.26. The victory was the second consecutive for the U.S. in the event, having won gold last year in Varese, Italy.
“It’s everything I imagined and more,” Banks said of winning the gold medal. “It’s one of the greatest honors that I could achieve at this age.”
The women’s four with coxswain of Camille Arnold-Mages (Waltham, Mass./Northeastern University), Eva Frohnhofer (New York, N.Y./University of Virginia), Quincy Stone (San Francisco, Calif./Stanford University), Natalie Hoefer (Midland, Mich./University of Notre Dame), and Julietta Camahort (San Francisco, Calif./Stanford University) won the bronze medal, finishing just behind Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. got off the line in first place before the Australian crew powered into the lead during the second quarter of the race with the Kiwis moving into second position. New Zealand tried to chip away at the Australians’ lead, but the Aussies were able to maintain their advantage through the finish. Australia clocked a 6:49.56 to finish 1.30 seconds ahead of New Zealand’s 6:50.86. The U.S. finished with a time of 6:51.59. The U.S. also won bronze in the event last year.
“We had a very strong start,” Arnold-Mages said. “We’ve improved a lot in a very short amount of time. I think the work we put out today really represents the speed that we gained throughout the (summer). It’s pretty cool. I’ve dreamed a lot about being up here, just racing at worlds, so the fact that I could get a medal in my first year is pretty exciting.”
In the final of the men’s four with coxswain, the crew of coxswain Sammy Houdaigui (McLean, Va./Dartmouth College), Blake Vogel (Pittsburgh, Pa./University of Washington), Braden Porterfield (Alexandria, Va./Northeastern University), Bret Holt (Folsom, Calif./University of California, Berkeley), and Keith Ryan (Sausalito, Calif./University of California, Berkeley) held off Australia to win the bronze medal. The crew got off the line in fourth position and actually sat in sixth at the 1,000-meter mark, but the Americans used the fastest third 500 meters to move into third place and then held off a late charge by the Aussies to secure a medal.
“We were actually down basically a length at the start, but we knew we just had to hammer the second half and make sure we were at least level at 500 with some of the crews,” Porterfield said. “We got the job done. I believed in every guy in our crew. I’m really happy.”
New Zealand got off the line in first before Italy took over the lead at the midway point. The Italians continued to build on their advantage as Great Britain moved into second place. Italy won the race in a 6:09.19, with the British crew taking second in a 6:12.00. The U.S. finished in a 6:12.76, 0.39 seconds ahead of Australia. The U.S. was back on the medal stand this year after winning silver last year.
“It’s pretty nuts,” Porterfield said about winning a medal. “I’ve tried twice (to make a national team). I went to U19 camp and then I went to U23 camp and got cut from both. It’s just really gratifying to finally get a chance to be at the world stage and make my country proud and make my family proud.”
The lightweight men’s quadruple sculls crew of Simon Dubiel (Seattle, Wash./University of Pennsylvania), Eli Rabinowitz (Rye, N.Y./Georgetown University), Ruben Luthra (Seattle, Wash./Georgetown University), and Troy Riesenberger (Sarasota, Fla./University of Pennsylvania) finished fourth in the final, just missing the medal stand. The U.S. sat in fourth for much of the race and could never get on terms with the Canadian crew in the bronze-medal position. Italy jumped out to an early lead, with Canada and Germany sitting just off the pace. The Germans moved into second at the midway point, but Italy would not let the Germans get any closer over the back half. Italy won with a time of 5:54.50, with Germany finishing second in a 5:56.52. Canada took the bronze in a 6:01.43, with the U.S. crossing in a 6:07.74.
The U.S. had four crews racing in semifinals on Saturday.
With three to advance to the medal race, lightweight men’s single sculler Christoph Karleskind (Alamo, Calif./Golden State Rowing Club) finished sixth and now will race in the B final. Karleskind sat in fourth place and was still in contention as the scullers hit the midway point. However, the American was unable to keep pace with the three lead boats as the scullers reached 500 meters to go. With advancement out of reach, Karleskind fell back over the final stretch. Italy’s Giovanni Borgonovo won the race in a 6:59.40, with Germany’s Moritz Kuepper taking second in a 7:02.39. Austria’s Konrad Hultsch claimed the other spot in the final, clocking a 7:03.54. Karleskind finished with a time of 7:16.77.
The lightweight women’s double sculls tandem of Aislinn O’Brien (Phoenixville, Pa./St. Joseph’s University) and Katrina Miehlbradt (Auckland, New Zealand/University of Toronto) finished sixth in its semifinal and will race in Sunday’s B finals for overall places 7-12. Greece’s Evangelia Anastasiadou and Dimitra Eleni Kontou dominated the race, winning by nearly eight seconds over Germany’s Kristin Burkert-Scholz and Finja Lara Rothhardt. China’s Jiajia Wang and Xinru Xing took third to also advance to the final. Greece finished with a time of 7:10.52, followed by Germany in 7:18.83. China clocked a 7:25.69. The U.S. crossed in a 7:43.14.
In the men’s quadruple sculls, James Patton (Houston, Texas/Harvard University), Matthew Davis (Malvern, Pa./University of Pennsylvania), Jason Kennedy (Berwyn, Pa./University of Pennsylvania), and Charles Jones (Bloomington, Ind./University of Pennsylvania) finished sixth in their semifinal and will race in tomorrow’s B final for places 7-12. The U.S. got off the line in fifth position before dropping to sixth before the halfway point. Germany led from start to finish, with the Netherlands’ crew chasing down Great Britain and the Czech Republic to take second. The British crew finished third. Germany won the race in a 5:48.27, with Netherlands finishing second in a 5:50.39 and Great Britain finishing third in a 5:51.70. The U.S. clocked a 6:19.33.
Women’s single sculler Katelin Gildersleeve (Dallas, Texas/Stanford University/Oklahoma City High Performance Center) also finished sixth in her semifinal and will race in the B final for places 7-12. With three to advance, Gildersleeve sat in fifth position through the 1,500-meter mark and was in contact with a qualifying spot for much of the race, However, she was never able to crack into the top three for a chance to move on to the final. Switzerland’s Aurelia-Maxima Katharina Janzen dominated the race, taking the early lead and then rowing away from the field over the back half. Janzen clocked a 7:43.83 to earn the victory. Belgium’s Mazarine Guilbert finished second in a 7:48.99, followed by Greece’s Evangelia Fragkou in a 7:50.53. Gildersleeve finished in an 8:01.22.
The U.S. had five boats racing in placement finals on Saturday.
The women’s quadruple sculls crew of Meena Baher (Mountain View, Calif./Harvard University), Lauren Benedict (Reston, Va./University of Virginia), Catie Castle (Vero Beach, Fla./University of Rhode Island), and Rosemary Varney (Ojai, Calif./University of California, Los Angeles) finished third in the B final to take ninth-place overall. The U.S. sat in fifth position with 500 meters to go before passing Switzerland and Poland in the sprint. China won the race in a 6:32.18, with Great Britain taking second in a 6:35.02. The U.S. finished with a time of 6:36.50.
The men’s pair of August Altucher (Sellwood, Ore./University of Washington) and Caleb Cowles (Newport Beach, Calif./University of Washington) finished fourth in the B final for a 10th-place finish overall. The crew sat in fifth at the midway point before overtaking Canada in the third 500 meters to move into fourth. Altucher and Cowles then held off a late charge from Canada. Germany won the race in a 6:34.07, with France taking second in a 6:37.57. China finished third in a 6:39.09, with the U.S. clocking a 6:43.14.
In the lightweight women’s single sculls, Emma Mirrer (Providence, R.I./Princeton University) won the C final to finish 13th overall. Mirrer and Portugal’s Bruna Parente hit the 500-meter split in a virtual dead heat before the American took the lead and began to open up her margin. Mirrer built a 2.51-second lead as the scullers came into the final 500 meters and won by about a length. Mirrer clocked a 7:53.39, with Parente taking second in a 7:55.07.
The lightweight men’s double sculls crew of Ryan Tripp (Piedmont, Calif./Dartmouth College) and Timothy Parsons (Eugene, Ore./Yale University) finished second in the C final for a 14th-place finish overall. Austria’s Mathias Maier and Elias Hautsch won the race in a 6:29.33, with the U.S. duo clocking a 6:31.34. Austria took the early lead, with the U.S. in second position. The Americans closed the gap in the third 500, but Austria was able to hold off the challenge and row to a two-second victory.
Men’s single sculler Isaiah Harrison (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho/Coeur d’Alene Rowing Association) finished second in the C final for 14th-place overall. Harrison got off the line in fifth position before moving into the lead during the middle 1,000 meters. However, Tunisia’s Fedi Ben Hammouda was able to chase down Harrison in the sprint to win the race. Ben Hammouda finished with a time of 7:01.16, with Harrison crossing less than one second behind in a 7:02.07.
Four additional crews will be racing on Sunday including both eights, which will be looking to reach the medal podium.
The women’s eight of coxswain Victoria Grieder (Windermere, Fla./Rutgers University), Megan Lee (Natick, Mass./Duke University), Hannah Heideveld (New Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers University), Mia Levy (Des Moines, Iowa/Yale University), Evan Park (Bend, Ore./Oregon State University), Lale Edil (Arcadia, Okla./University of Oklahoma), Dahlia Levine (Ardmore, Pa./Brown University), Lauren Day (Seattle, Wash./United States Naval Academy), and Olivia Vavasour (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Brown University) won its heat to advance to tomorrow’s final. The crew will take on Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, and Italy in the race for the medals.
The men’s eight of coxswain Jack DiGiovanni (Pittsford, N.Y./Brown University), Josh Golbus (Plymouth, Minn./Brown University), Ian Burnett (Arlington, Mass./Brown University), Wilson Morton (Summit, N.J./University of California, Berkeley), Erik Spinka (Southport, Conn./Princeton University), Joseph Kiely (Hebron, Ky./University of Notre Dame), Julian Thomas (New Hope, Pa./Dartmouth College), Nick Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Princeton University), and Jacob Hudgins (Andover, Mass./Dartmouth College) won its repechage in easy fashion to advance to Sunday’s final. The Americans will take on Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, and Romania in the final.
The women’s four of Angela Szabo (Sarasota, Fla./University of California), Maddie Moore (Naples, Fla./Yale University), Elsa Hartman (Roseville, Calif./University of Virginia), and Katherine Kelly (Vashon Island, Wash./University of Virginia) will race in Sunday’s B final after finishing fourth in the repechage. The U.S. will take on Hungary, France, Italy, China, and Spain for overall places 7-12.
In the women’s double sculls, Megan Walsh (Grand Rapids, Minn./University of Oklahoma) and Annie Herring (Dallas, Texas/Brown University) will race in the B final against crews from Latvia, China, Netherlands, and Hungary for overall places 7-11.
This year’s World Rowing Under 23 Championships features more than 750 athletes from 51 nations. The U.S. has 16 athletes returning from last year’s team.
Racing concludes on Sunday with the remaining finals.
The live race tracker and live audio will be available for all races on www.worldrowing.com. Live video streaming will be available on the World Rowing website on Sunday for the A finals. The video streaming will start five minutes before the first race.
Complete press coverage, athlete bios, and links to event information will be available at www.usrowing.org and www.worldrowing.com. Follow along by using the hashtags #WRU23Champs and #WRU23CHPlovdiv.
USRowing would like to thank Filippi Lido, the Official Boat Supplier for the U.S. Senior, Under 23, and Para-Rowing National Teams. Under the agreement, Filippi is providing USRowing a fleet of boats for international competitions including the World Rowing Cup regattas, World Rowing Under 23 Championships, World Rowing Championships, Olympic Games, and Paralympic Games, as well as a domestic training fleet for the USRowing Training Center.