PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY USROWING
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World cup berths in six events and spots at the Gavirate International Para Regatta in two events were on the line Friday during USRowing’s 2023 National Selection Regatta in Chula Vista, Calif.
In the final of the men’s single sculls, Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s Jacob Plihal (Vashon Island, Wash./Northeastern University) finished just under three seconds ahead of California Rowing Club’s Andrew LeRoux (Venice, Fla./Princeton University) to claim the victory. Plihal, who won the single at the Pan American Games Qualification Regatta last week, crossed the finish line with a time of 7:06.57, with LeRoux finishing in a 7:09.46. New York Athletic Club’s Eliot Putnam (Littleton, Mass./Cornell University) finished third in a 7:10.59, with Coeur d’Alene Rowing Association’s Isaiah Harrison (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) finishing fourth in a 7:13.63.
“Yesterday definitely felt a little flat,” Plihal said. “I think that was just because of the residual fatigue recovering from (a cold) and all the travel. I came out for a good, focused, easy row in yesterday’s practice session. I think that was really good to just refocus. (Coach) Steve (Whelpley) gave me a technical focus of hips forward, and I carried that through today. I kept it light for the back half of yesterday, and I think that little extra recovery was good and helped set me up with executing today.”
In the women’s single sculls, Texas Rowing Center’s Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif./University of California, Berkeley), a nine-time national team member and two-time Olympian who won the bronze medal in the event at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, defeated USRowing Training Center – Princeton’s Michelle Sechser (Folsom, Calif./University of Tulsa), a Tokyo 2020 Olympian who won a silver medal in the lightweight women’s double sculls at last year’s world championships, by nearly five seconds. Kohler clocked a 7:42.25, with Sechser coming home in a 7:47.15. ARION’s Savannah Brija (Lemont, Ill./Ithaca College) finished third in a 7:52.72, with Whitemarsh Boat Club’s Audrey Boersen (West Olive, Mich./Grand Valley State University) taking fourth in a 7:55.74.
California Rowing Club’s Ben Davison (Inverness, Fla./University of Washington) and Sorin Koszyk (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich./Cornell University), who finished one-two in the single sculls at the 2023 Winter Speed Order, won the men’s double sculls final by 5.7 seconds over TRC’s Kevin Cardno (Huntsville, Ala./University of Alabama, Huntsville) and Dominique Williams (Madison, Conn./University of Pennsylvania). Davison and Koszyk finished with a time of 6:23.56, with Cardno and Williams crossing in a 6:29.26. TRC’s Zachary Heese (Pelham, N.Y./University of Virginia) and Jasper Liu (Phoenix, Ariz./University of Pennsylvania), who raced the lightweight double sculls at last year’s world championships, finished third in a 6:40.61.
“We haven’t been in the lineup that long, so we were just trying to find the rhythm off the start,” Koszyk said. “Just trying to be loose and put together a full piece. We’ve made a lot of progress (since the speed order) being in the lineup together, working with Tim (McLaren). I think we’ve made a lot of steps in the right direction but there are still a lot of things we need to sharpen up.”
In the women’s double sculls, ARION’s Kristi Wagner (Weston, Mass./Yale University) and Lauren O’Connor (Belleville, Wis./University of Wisconsin) edged out the TRC/Cambridge Boat Club combination of Sophia Vitas (Franklin, Wis./University of Wisconsin) and Emily Kallfelz (Jamestown, R.I./Princeton University) by 0.45 seconds. Wagner and O’Connor overtook Vitas and Kallfelz in the final few strokes to win with a time of 6:54.35. Vitas and Kallfelz crossed in a 6:54.80. The USRowing Training Center-Princeton/Cambridge duo of Molly Reckford (Short Hills, N.J./Dartmouth College) and Mary Jones Nabel finished third in a 7:04.95.
“It was definitely a really good race. It was super-fun to go up against Kallfelz and Sophia like that,” O’Connor said. “They’ve been doing really well. Kristi and I had never done a race like that together, so it was fun to see that starting speed. Seeing our percentage be so high was super cool … It was nice to get out there and have a really good race against some really great competitors.”
Wagner, a Tokyo 2020 Olympian, raced with Vitas in the double at last year’s world championships, while O’Connor is trying to make her first national team this year.
“It’s a really great step. It feels like I am actually having momentum moving forward,” said O’Connor about today’s race as she works towards trying to make her first national team. “Last year, I felt like I finished just on the outside of everything. I was in the mix in the first couple of NSRs we did and then I finished second behind Kara (Kohler) last August (in the single sculls). I felt like I had so much room to grow and to put my head down and start working. I got into this Spring, and it feels like (the work) has paid off. To get to see my name at the top around people I have so much respect for and I know are great competitors, it’s such an awesome feeling to feel like I am truly taking those steps forward.”
In the men’s pair, California Rowing Club’s Michael Grady (Pittsburgh, Pa./Cornell University) and Liam Corrigan (Old Lyme, Conn./Harvard University) followed up their victory in the event at the 2023 Winter Speed Order with a win in today’s final of the NSR. Grady and Corrigan crossed the line in a 6:30.78 to defeat CRC’s Henry Hollingsworth (Dover, Mass./Brown University) and Pieter Quinton (Portland, Ore./Harvard University) by 2.68 seconds. Hollingsworth and Quinton finished with a time of 6:33.46. CRC’s Justin Best (Kennett Square, Pa./Drexel University) and Oliver Bub (Westport, Conn./Dartmouth College) finished third. Grady raced the pair with Best at last year’s world championships, while Corrigan was part of the men’s eight.
In the women’s pair, California Rowing Club’s Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y./Ithaca College) and Alie Rusher (West Bend, Wis./Stanford University), who finished fourth in the event at the speed order, won the final by a little less than one second over USRowing Training Center – Princeton’s Claire Collins (McLean, Va./Princeton University) and Molly Bruggeman (Dayton, Ohio/University of Notre Dame). The CRC boat won with a time of 7:11.62, with Collins and Bruggeman finishing in a 7:12.42. The 40-year-old Musnicki, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time Olympian, is back after taking a year off following the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while Rusher also raced in Tokyo. Craftsbury’s Mary Mazzio-Manson (Wellesley, Mass./Yale University/University of Texas) and Emily Froehlich (Fishers, Ind./University of Texas) finished third.
“It was a great race,’ Musnicki said. “We had the delay in the morning because of the fog, so it was a waiting game for a little while, but it was a ton of fun. It’s great to be back racing. Racing with Alie was awesome. We’ve wanted to improve from race to race to race since we got together, and I think we achieved that goal. The competition was great. Claire and Molly had a heck of a race. It was a lot of fun out there.”
“It hurts,” said a laughing Musnicki about where she is in her comeback. “No, it’s great. I’m trying to be in the present moment of everything right now because I feel incredibly lucky that I am still able to do something that I love. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment through the process.”
Both Para boats raced uncontested on Friday. In the PR2 mixed double sculls. Lake Casitas Rowing Club’s Russell Gernaat (Redwood City, Calif.) and West Side Rowing Club’s Madison Eberhard (Buffalo, N.Y.) covered the course in an 9:04.83. Gernaat is a four-time national team member and was a Tokyo 2020 Paralympian in the event. Eberhard is a one-time national team member, having raced in the PR2 single sculls in 2019.
In the PR1 men’s single sculls, West Side Rowing Club’s Andrew Mangan (Buffalo, N.Y./Stanford University), who finished 10th in the event at the 2022 World Rowing Championships, crossed the finish line in an 11:00.15.
Click here for complete results from today’s racing.
Winners in the men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and pairs earned the right to race at World Rowing Cup 2 in Varese, Italy. A top-six finish in Varese (if six of the top eight nations from the 2022 World Championships are in attendance) will earn the athletes the opportunity to represent the U.S. in the event at the 2023 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. If six of the top eight nations are not in attendance, the placement criteria will be adapted. Click here to see the complete 2023 Senior National Team Selection Procedures.
In the PR1 men’s single sculls and PR2 mixed double sculls, the winning boat earned the right to race at the Gavirate International Para Regatta. A top-six finish in Gavirate (if six of the top eight nations from the 2022 World Championships are in attendance) will earn the athletes the opportunity to represent the U.S. in the event at the 2023 World Championships. If six of the top eight nations are not in attendance, the placement criteria will be adapted. Click here to see the complete 2023 Para National Team Selection Procedures.
Seven of the eight winning boats accepted their spots to compete in Varese or Gavirate. Only the men’s pair declined its spot world cup berth. The second-place pair also declined the spot, meaning that the men’s pair now will be part of the world championships’ team trials in late July.
In total, 55 rowers in 38 boats competed this week on the Lower Otay Reservoir.
The 2023 World Rowing Championships will take place September 3-10 in Belgrade, Serbia.
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.