PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY USROWING
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Sophia Luwis won a silver medal in the lightweight women’s single sculls and seven U.S. crews won their semifinals Saturday at World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy. Three additional crews advanced out of the semifinals today, giving the U.S. 10 boats racing in Sunday’s finals.
After winning her heat on Friday, Luwis (McLean, Va./The College of William & Mary/Whitemarsh Boat Club) came back to win the silver medal in Saturday’s final behind France’s Aurelie Morizot. The Frenchwoman got off the line quickly, establishing a half-boat lead over Great Britain’s Olivia Bates in the first 500 meters of the race, with Luwis sitting a half-length behind Bates. Morizot extended her advantage during the middle 1,000 meters, grabbing an open-water lead at one point. As the scullers reached the 500-meter mark, Bates made her move, cutting Morizot’s advantage back to a half-length before Morizot was able to respond and walk away from Bates. Luwis chased down Bates in the final 250 meters to claim the silver medal, while the British sculler held on for bronze. Morizot won the race in a 7:46.90, with Luwis finishing in a 7:50.16. Bates clocked a 7:50.84.
Both U.S. women’s pairs advanced to the medal race. Racing in the first of two semifinals, Alie Rusher (West Bend, Wis./Stanford University/California Rowing Club) and Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y./Ithaca College/California Rowing Club) led from the start, clocking a 6:58.26 to take the victory. Rusher, a Tokyo 2020 Olympian, and Musnicki, a three-time Olympian, grabbed the early lead over Spain and had built their advantage to over three seconds at the midway point of the race. Spain tried to close the gap in the final 500 meters, but the U.S. duo kept a comfortable advantage, winning by 1.70 seconds. Spain finished in a 6:59.96, with Germany claiming the other spot in the final.
“Alie and I had a solid race today,” Musnicki said. “Our goal going into this world cup has been to improve from race to race, identify specific areas we can work on, and dial it in for the next race. I feel comfortable speaking for both of us when I say lining up on the international circuit in a pair together is not something we would have predicted had you asked us six months ago. We’re out there having fun, doing what we love, and putting our best foot forward to see how we end up. I’m definitely looking forward to the final tomorrow. We will talk with (coach) Skip (Kielt), perhaps make some minor adjustments to our race plan, but really, it all comes down to capitalizing on one more opportunity to race together and gain experience for the future.”
In the second semifinal of the women’s pair, Jessica Thoennes (Highlands Ranch, Colo./University of Washington/USRowing Training Center- Princeton) and Charlotte Buck (Nyack, N.Y./Columbia University/USRowing Training Center- Princeton) finished second behind Australia to earn a spot in the final. Thoeness and Buck sat in third place behind Australia and Great Britain through the 1,000-meter mark before passing the British boat in the third quarter of the race. Australia won the race in a 6:51.32, with the U.S. taking second in a 6:59.50. Great Britain held on for the third and final qualifying spot for tomorrow’s final.
The U.S. finished first and third in the first semifinal of the women’s double sculls, with both boats moving on to the final. Kristi Wagner (Weston, Mass/Yale University/ARION) and Sophia Vitas (Franklin, Wisc./University of Wisconsin/Texas Rowing Center), who finished fifth in the event at last year’s world championships, got off the line in second place behind France and were basically even with the French boat at the halfway point. Wagner and Vitas established their lead in the third 500 meters before crossing the line just over one second ahead of France. After getting off the line in fourth position, the second U.S. boat of Emily Kallfelz (Jamestown, R.I./Princeton University/Cambridge Boat Club) and Lauren O’Connor (Belleville, Wis./University of Wisconsin/ARION) moved into third during the second quarter of the race and maintained that spot the rest of the way down the course. Wagner and Vitas finished with a time of 6:43.75, with France taking second in a 6:44.81. Kallfelz and O’Connor crossed the line in a 6:45.89. The three crews will take on two Chinese boats and Australia in the final.
Less than two hours later, the four U.S. scullers came back to race in the second repechage of the women’s quadruple sculls. Unfortunately, the crew came up a half-length short and now will race in the B final on Sunday. The U.S. got off the line in fourth position before moving into third in the second half of the race. Italy held the advantage through the middle 1,000 meters. Germany made its charge in the final 500 meters, with the U.S. trying to go with the German crew. At the line, Germany had inched ahead of Italy to win the race by a foot in a time of 6:14.31. The U.S. crossed in a 6:15.54 and now will face Australia, Canada, China, and Norway in the B final.
After winning their heat yesterday, the U.S. men’s double sculls combination of Sorin Koszyk (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich./Cornell University/California Rowing Club) and Ben Davison (Inverness, Fla./University of Washington/California Rowing Club) came back to win the second of two semifinals to advance to the race for the medals. Koszyk and Davison took the lead in the first quarter of the race and continued to walk away from the rest of the field in the middle 1,000 meters, taking a lead of almost four seconds into the final stretch. At the line, the U.S. boat had clocked a 6:06.80 to win by nearly three seconds. Italy finished second, followed by the Czech Republic. Italy’s top boat won the first semifinal in a 6:07.76, with China and Australia earning the other spots in the final.
“We had a good race today,” Davison said. “We are still a new combination, so the goal coming into the regatta was just to keep improving with each race. We are excited to keep building in the final tomorrow and have a complete piece.”
Molly Bruggeman (Dayton, Ohio/University of Notre Dame/USRowing Training Center Princeton), Kelsey Reelick (Brookfield, Conn./Princeton University/USRowing Training Center Princeton), Madeleine Wanamaker (Neenah, Wis./University of Wisconsin at Madison/USRowing Training Center Princeton), and Claire Collins (McLean, Va./Princeton University/USRowing Training Center Princeton) won the second semifinal of the women’s four to advance to the final. Canada’s top boat took the lead off the line, but the U.S. pulled into the top spot during the second 500 meters, building a 1.62-second lead on Denmark at the midway point. The U.S. extended its advantage during the third 500 before cruising to a 1.60-second victory. The U.S. finished with a time of 6:19.82, with Denmark taking second in a 6:21.42. Canada’ second entry finished third to move on to the final. Australia won the first semifinal in a 6:19.41, just ahead of Great Britain’s time of 6:19.76, setting up what should be a tight race with the U.S. in tomorrow’s final. China secured the remaining spot in the final.
Michael Grady (Pittsburgh, Pa./Cornell University/California Rowing Club), Nick Mead (Strafford, Pa./Princeton University/New York Athletic Club), Chris Carlson (Bedford, N.H./University of Washington/California Rowing Club), and Liam Corrigan (Old Lyme, Conn./Harvard University/California Rowing Club) held off a late charge from France to win the second semifinal of the men’s four. The U.S. boat sat in fourth position after 500 meters but moved into the top spot as the boats hit the halfway point. The U.S. inched out a little bit more in the third 500 meters before France made its push. At the line, the U.S. crossed in a 5:48.10, just 0.31 seconds ahead of France. China took third, just ahead of Switzerland. Great Britain won the first semifinal in a 5:45.30, with Australia and Italy also qualifying for the final.
Women’s single sculler Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif./University of California, Berkeley/Texas Rowing Center), the 2019 World Rowing Championships bronze medalist in the event, won her semifinal to advance to tomorrow’s final. Kohler sat in fifth position before moving into first at the 1,000-meter mark. Kohler continued to build on her advantage over the third quarter of the race before Australia’s Tara Rigney made a small push in the final stretch. Kohler won the race in a 7:20.41, finishing 2.29 seconds ahead of Rigney. The Czech Republic’s Anna Santruckova finished third. China’s Ruiqi Liu won the first semifinal in a 7:20.81, with Germany’s Alexandra Foester taking second and Azerbaijan’s Diana Dymchenko taking third. Those six scullers will face off in tomorrow’s final.
Defending world championships’ silver medalists Michelle Sechser (Folsom, Calif./University of Tulsa/ USRowing Training Center – Princeton) and Molly Reckford (Short Hills, N.J./Dartmouth College/USRowing Training Center – Princeton) dominated the second semifinal of the lightweight women’s double sculls to advance to tomorrow’s final. The U.S. held a slight advantage over Canada at the 500-meter mark before methodically rowing away from the field over the rest of the race. At the line, Sechser and Reckford posted a time of 6:43.37, finishing 5.52 seconds ahead of Canada. Italy finished third. Great Britain’s Emily Craig and Imogen Grant, who won the gold medal at last year’s world championships, won the first semifinal in a 6:40.47, with France taking second and China finishing third. The second U.S. crew of Audrey Boersen (West Olive, Mich./Grand Valley State University/Whitemarsh Boat Club) and Mary Jones Nabel (Huntsville, Ala./University of Tennessee/Cambridge Boat Club) finished fourth in the first semi and will now race in the B final. Boersen and Jones Nabel clocked a 6:49.92.
The men’s pair of Justin Best (Kennett Square, Pa./Drexel University/California Rowing Club) and Pieter Quinton (Portland, Ore./Harvard University/California Rowing Club) finished third in the first semifinal to advance to tomorrow’s final. Best and Quinton got off the line in second position behind Switzerland before Australia settled into second as the boats approached the midway point. The U.S. pair rowed comfortably in third the rest of the way down the course, securing a spot in the final. Switzerland won the race in a 6:22.51, with Australia taking second in a 6:25.49. Best and Quinton crossed the line in a 6:28.24. In the second semifinal, Andrew Gaard (Madison, Wis/University of Washington/California Rowing Club) and Oliver Bub (Westport, Conn./Dartmouth College/California Rowing Club) just missed a spot in the final, finishing fourth. Gaard and Bub got off the line in sixth place but were able to work their way back into third position with just 500 meters to go. However, Croatia, who had sat in third for the first 1,000 meters, regrouped and was able to pass the U.S. boat in the final sprint. Great Britain won the race in a 6:21.98, with the Netherlands taking second in a 6:23.58. Croatia clocked a 6:25.03, with Gaard and Bub finishing in a 6:26.62. Gaard and Bub will race in the B final against Germany, China, Denmark, Poland, and Italy. Best and Quinton will race for the medals against Switzerland, Australia, Great Britain, Netherlands, and Croatia.
Andrew Mangan (Buffalo, N.Y./Stanford University/West Side Rowing Club/Bair Island Aquatic Center) finished fourth in the second of two repechages and will now race in the B final for overall places 7-12. Mangan sat in fourth position the entire way down the course. Israel’s Shmuel Daniel won the race in a 9:11.98, with Brazil’s Rene Campos Pereira taking the other qualifying spot for the A final in a 9:26.63. Mangan finished with a time of 9:54.22 and will take on Ukraine, Mexico, Italy, and two scullers from Poland in the B final.
The U.S. lightweight men’s double sculls crews finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the first semifinal and now will race in tomorrow’s B final. While both crews stayed in contention for a spot in the medal race, neither was able crack into the top three positions. China’s top boat held the lead through the 1,500-meter mark before Italy caught them at the line. China’s second boat finished third. Jimmy McCullough (Philadelphia, Pa./University of Delaware/Texas Rowing Center) and Sam Melvin (Huntington Beach, Calif./Columbia University/New York Athletic Club) battled teammates Jasper Liu (Phoenix, Ariz./University of Pennsylvania/Texas Rowing Center) and Zachary Heese (Pelham, N.Y./University of Virginia/Texas Rowing Center) for fourth the length of the course, finishing with a time of 6:15.86, just 0.13 seconds ahead of their U.S. teammates. Italy won the race in a 6:12.51. The two U.S. boats will race against Australia, Belgium, and Japan in the B final.
Racing in the C final of the men’s single sculls, Jacob Plihal (Vashon Island, Wash./Northeastern University/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) bested Andrew LeRoux (Venice, Fla./Princeton University/California Rowing Club) by 0.39 seconds to win the race in a 6:50.59 to finish 13th overall. Plihal got off the line in fourth position behind Norway’s Kjetil Borch, Sweden’s Eskil Borgh, and LeRoux. Borch continued to lead at the halfway point, with Plihal moving into second and LeRoux dropping to fourth. Both U.S. scullers made their moves in the third 500 meters, pulling into the top two spots as they entered the final quarter of the race. Plihal was able to hold off LeRoux at the line to earn the victory. LeRoux clocked a 6:50.98 to finish 14th overall.
More than 650 athletes from 42 nations are competing in Varese. Racing concludes on Sunday with finals in Olympic and Paralympic boat classes. 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 from 10 a.m. – 2:50 p.m. CET. The video streaming will start five minutes before the first race.
Full event coverage will be available on USRowing.org and WorldRowing.com.
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.
USRowing also would like to thank the Head Of The Charles Regatta, the official sponsor of the U.S. men’s and women’s pairs at World Rowing Cup II.