PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY USROWING
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The U.S. won three medals Monday at the 2023 Pan American Games Qualification Regatta in San Pedro de la Paz, Chile. The men’s pair took home the gold medal, while the women’s pair and women’s quadruple sculls took home silver medals. All three crews secured their spots at the Pan American Games, pending United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee approval.
Ezra Carlson (Eureka, Calif./University of Washington/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) and Alexander Hedge (Morristown, N.J./Columbia University/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) controlled the final of the men’s pair, winning the gold medal by open water and securing their spot for the Pan American Games. Carlson and Hedge led Uruguay’s Martin Zocalo and Leandro Rodas by about a half-length at the midway point of the race before pulling away over the second 1,000 meters.
“Alexander and I were able to put together a couple of good races down the course here. We expected the boats in the final to be fast off the blocks, and we just stayed very internally focused,” Carlson said. “We did a good job of controlling the pace through the middle 1,000 meters, which allowed us to respond to some quick crews in the last 500 and hold our lead through the line. Definitely a good step for us going into the rest of the year.”
The U.S. duo clocked a 6:49.32 to finish 3.39 seconds ahead of Uruguay. Mexico’s Hugo Reyes and Jordi Gutierrez finished third in a 6:55.21.
“I’m happy to have qualified the boat for the games this fall,” Carlson said. “I had fun racing the other crews here and the event has been well run. I think the Pan American Games has been an undervalued event that offers very good racing opportunities. My focus now is on making the team for the world championships and preparing to race for the Olympic qualification spots up for grabs at the world championships this summer.”
In the women’s pair, Isa Darvin (Madison, Wis./University of Wisconsin/Penn AC) and Cristina Pretto (Prospect, Conn./Trinity College/Penn AC) finished second in the final to qualify for the Pan American Games. Chile’s Antonia Zanetta and Antonia Pichot got off the line quickly, establishing the early lead over the U.S. and Canada’s Kailani Marchak and Olivia McMurray. During the second quarter of the race, Canada and the U.S. overtook Chile and pulled away from the rest of the field. Marchak and McMurray continued to extend their advantage over the back half of the race, winning with a time of 7:33.32. The U.S. took the silver medal in a 7:39.83, with Mexico’s Lilian Armenta and Maite Arrillaga overtaking Chile for third.
The women’s quadruple sculls crew of Grace Joyce (Northfield, Ill./University of Wisconsin/Craftsbury Green Racing Project), Katherine Horvat (Philadelphia, Pa./Yale University/ARION), Madeleine Focht (Long Beach, Calif./California State University, Long Beach/Long Beach Rowing Association), and Veronica Nicacio (Battle Ground, Wash./University of Portland/ARION) also won a silver medal, qualifying for the Pan American Games. Chile took the early lead, with the U.S. boat settling into second position. At the midway point, the host country had built a four-seat lead on the U.S. boat, which had open water on the rest of the field. At the finish, Chile had won the race by a bit of open water in a 6:39.14, with the U.S. clocking a 6:42.65. Brazil took third in a 6:52.11.
“It was truly a barn burner of a race against Chile but an absolute honor to race against them on their home course,” Focht said. “I felt we executed our plan great; and being our first time racing together in the quad, we definitely gave it all we’ve got. No words can describe how excited I am for the Pan American Games and to represent my country for the first time. I feel like it’s just only the beginning for us, and we’ll come back even stronger. Right now, everything at this point is just gravy.”
In the men’s quadruple sculls, Casey Fuller (Newtown, Conn./Fairfield University/Saugatuck Rowing Club), Luke Rein (Barrington, R.I./College of Charleston/Penn AC), Mark Couwenhoven (Parkton, Md./University of Maryland – Baltimore County/Penn AC), and Jacob Plihal (Vashon Island, Wash./Northeastern University/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) finished sixth in the final. Cuba led Uruguay at the 1,000-meter mark before Uruguay was able to move out in front over the second half of the race. Uruguay won the race with a time of 5:52.81, with Cuba finishing second in a 5:55.14. Chile finished third in a 5:55.43, just 0.02 seconds ahead of Mexico. The U.S. finished sixth with a time of 6:02.26. While only the top five finishers officially qualified for the Pan American Games on Monday, Chile, as the host-country, was already guaranteed a spot in the event, and the U.S. is in line to receive a bid once the qualification spots are finalized.
The lightweight men’s double sculls tandem of Sean Richardson (Beverly, Mass./University of Massachusetts/Riverside Boat Club) and Alex Twist (Boston, Mass./University of Puget Sound/Riverside Boat Club) finished fourth in the second of two semifinals and will race in tomorrow’s B final with Pan American Games’ qualification on the line. The duo sat in fourth position at the 1,000-meter mark but was unable to challenge for the third qualification spot during the back half of the race. Argentina’s Alejandro Colomino and Pedro Dickson won the race in a 6:38.83, with Chile’s Cesar Abaroa and Heber Sanhueza finishing second in a 6:39.85. Uruguay finished third with a time of 6:40.65. The U.S. clocked a 6:45.36. Richardson and Twist will take on crews from Nicaragua, Peru, Cuba, Paraguay, and Guatemala in the B final and will need a top-three finish to qualify.
In the repechage of the women’s four, Darvin, Hannah Paynter (Lyme, Conn./Princeton University/ARION), Pretto, and Lauren Miller (St Cloud, Minn./University of Minnesota/ARION) took home the victory to advance to tomorrow’s final. With four to advance, the U.S. boat held nearly a two-second lead at the halfway point before extending its advantage over the back half of the race. The U.S. crossed the finish line in a 6:39.36, 4.45 seconds ahead of Canada’s time of 6:43.81. Brazil and Argentina took the other two qualifying spots. The four boats will face heat winners Mexico and Chile in the final.
In the repechage of the men’s four, Carlson, Hedge, Cooper Hurley (Andover, Mass./University of Delaware/Penn AC), and Nicholas Ruggiero (Haddonfield, N.J./University of Delaware/Penn AC) finished third behind Cuba and Chile to advance to the final. Chile led for the first half of the race before Cuba moved into the top position in the second 1,000 meters. Cuba won with a time of 6:04.85, followed by Chile in second in a 6:07.89. The U.S. finished third in a time of 6:08.86. Mexico claimed the last spot in the final. The four crews will join heat winners Argentina and Uruguay in the race for the medals.
In addition to the two fours racing in tomorrow’s A finals and the lightweight men’s double sculls racing in tomorrow’s B final, the U.S. lightweight women’s double sculls will be racing for medals and looking to officially lock down a qualifying spot for the Pan American Games on Tuesday.
Elizabeth Martin (Lexington, Mass./Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Riverside Boat Club) and Mary Wilson (Laurens, S.C./Duke University/Vesper Boat Club) finished second in their heat Monday to advance directly to the final. Martin and Wilson will take on Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico in the race for medals. Argentina’s Evelyn Silvestro and Sonia Baluzzo and Chile’s Isidora Niemeyer and Antonia Liewald were the two heat winners. With nine total crews qualifying for the Pan American Games in the event, all six boats in the lightweight women’s double sculls final will punch their tickets once they cross the finish line.
Tuesday’s racing will be streamed live on the Panam Sports Channel.
In total, the U.S. has 12 boats competing in the five-day regatta. Racing concludes on Wednesday with finals in the men’s and women’s single sculls and double sculls. Click here for complete coverage of the event.
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.