PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY USROWING
To continue reading…
Register for free to get limited access to the best reporting available.
Free accounts can read one story a month without paying. Register for free
Or subscribe to get unlimited access to the best reporting available. Subscribe
To learn about group subscriptions, click here.
Already a subscriber? Login
The U.S. swept all four of its races Wednesday at the 2023 Pan American Games Qualification Regatta in San Pedro de la Paz, Chile, winning three gold medals and qualifying four boats for the Pan American Games, pending United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee approval, in the process.
The women’s single sculls, men’s single sculls, and women’s double sculls all won gold medals in their A final races, while the men’s double sculls won the B final to finish seventh overall and qualify for the Pan American Games.
In total, the U.S. won eight medals and qualified 11 boats for the Pan American Games over the five-day regatta. The U.S. also is in line to receive a bid in the men’s quadruple sculls once the qualification spots are finalized. COPARE will confirm all qualification spots no later than April 21.
In today’s final of the women’s single sculls, Grace Joyce (Northfield, Ill./University of Wisconsin/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) held off a late charge from Chile’s Antonia Abraham to win the gold medal and qualify for the Pan American Games. Canada’s Alizee Brien got off the line in first place, with the U.S. sitting in a tight race for second as the scullers reached the 500-meter mark. Joyce made her first move, grabbing at slight lead 750 meters into the race, and then extended her lead to a length over Brien at the halfway point. Joyce continued to lead coming into the final 500 meters as Abraham passed Brien and began her attempt to chase down the U.S. sculler. At the line, Joyce clocked a 7:46.33 to outlast Abraham by 0.55 seconds. The Chilean finished with a time of 7:46.88. Brazil’s Cardoso Beatriz captured the bronze medal in a 7:54.14, as Brien fell to fourth.
“This morning, I really worked to focus in on my race plan, stay internal, and not be shaken by the other competitors’ fast first quarter,” Joyce said. “I felt confident through the race, and I was happy with my execution. I’m walking away happy with my performance and eager to get back to make the changes necessary to be faster for the Pan American Games in October. I am beyond hyped to have qualified for the Pan Am Games in the single.”
In the men’s single sculls, Jacob Plihal (Vashon Island, Wash./Northeastern University/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) used a strong sprint to track down Brazil’s Lucas Ferreira to win the gold medal and a spot at the Pan American Games. Plihal got off the start in fifth but sat in a virtual dead heat for third, less than a half-length off the top position, at the 500-meter mark. Plihal was still in a tight, three-way battle for second place, about a length behind Ferreira, as the scullers reached the midway point. That’s when Ferreira and Plihal began to get separation from the rest of the field. Ferreira continued to lead coming into the final 500 meters, but Plihal was gaining ground quickly and broke through in the sprint to win by about a length. Plihal finished with a time of 7:00.43, with Ferreira taking second in a 7:03.58. Mexico’s Juan Jose Flores finished third in a 7:08.37.
“The race today was a great battle,” Plihal said. “It seemed like I was pretty close to Lucas off the line, but he built out an early lead. Based on earlier races, I assumed a lot of the guys would be quick off the line, so I wanted to just stay focused on the middle part of the race and claw back into the mix and push away. I saw that I was within striking distance coming into the last 250 meters, so I brought the rate up a bit and was able to work through Lucas by the line. I’m stoked to have qualified to race in the Pan Am Games for 2023. This event was the first time I have been able to race the single internationally for the USA, and having the opportunity to race guys like Lucas, Bruno (Cetraro), and Juan Jose was great. I’m excited to have a rematch later this year and run down the track with these guys again.”
The women’s double sculls crew of Madeleine Focht (Long Beach, Calif./California State University, Long Beach/Long Beach Rowing Association) and Veronica Nicacio (Vancouver/Vancouver Lake, Wash./University of Portland/ARION) won the gold medal ahead of Chile to earn a spot at the Pan American Games.
“We executed our race like it was our last,” Focht said. “We came in swinging, pressed hard in the front end, and held them off. So much excitement to return to Chile for the Pan American Games. I feel so thankful to be a part of this team and get to do it all again.”
Chile’s Melita Abraham and Victoria Hostetter took the early lead before the U.S. boat inched into the top spot as the crews entered the second quarter of the race. Focht and Nicacio pulled out to a half-length lead at the midway point. The Chileans tried to make a move just after the 1,000-meter mark, but the U.S. was able to meet that challenge and extend the advantage to a length with 500 meters to go. Abraham and Hostetter made one last charge to try to challenge Focht and Nicacio, but the U.S. held strong to win by three-quarters of a length. The U.S. won gold in a time of 7:01.09, with Chile taking silver in a 7:02.47. Canada finished third in a 7:12.35.
“We wanted to get out and establish that early lead and hold on until the end, which was what we were able to do,” Nicacio said. “We are excited to return in October and will work to gather even more speed. A lot can happen before then, and I am looking forward to a solid next training block. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity and am grateful for all the support we’ve had along the way. It’s not about the medals; it’s about the journey, and I am grateful to take what I learned and keep growing.”
In the B final of the men’s double sculls, Luke Rein (Barrington, R.I./College of Charleston/Penn AC) and Casey Fuller (Newtown, Conn./Fairfield University/Saugatuck Rowing Club) won the race to finish seventh overall and qualify for the Pan America Games. The duo inched ahead of Paraguay and Brazil during the second quarter of the race to build a half-length lead at the midway point. Rein and Fuller extended their advantage during the third 500 meters and held a length lead going into the final quarter of the race. The U.S. duo crossed the finish line in a 6:35.34 to win the race ahead of Brazil’s Batista Joao and Almeida Marcelo, who finished second in a 6:36.91. Venezuela finished third.
Click here for complete coverage of the event, and click here for a look at rowing’s qualification procedures for the 2023 Pan American Games.
The 2023 Pan American Games are scheduled to take place October 20-November 5, with the rowing events being contested October 21-25 in San Pedro de la Paz, Chile.
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.