PHOTO BY LISA WORTHY | STORY COURTESY USROWING
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The U.S. women’s eight won gold and the men’s eight won silver on the final day of racing at the 2023 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
In total, the U.S. won five medals over the weekend including two golds, one silver, and two bronze medals. The U.S. ranked fifth in the medal table and finished in a tie for third in total medals.
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) got off the line quickly and were dead even with Germany as the crews passed the 500-meter mark. That’s when the U.S. made its move, powering out to more than a two-second lead by the midway point of the race. The American boat continued to pull away from the field, holding about a length on Germany with 500 meters to go.
“It was the coolest experience I’ve ever had,” Lee said. “We really focused on trying to be faster in the first 500, and we accomplished that. We were much closer to the other boats in the first 500, and our coxswain called at 750 that we were in first place. We weren’t totally expecting that. We thought it was going to be much more of a backend race. We just took it as far as we could.”
The U.S. crossed the finish line with an open-water victory in a 6:09.14. Germany finished second, with Canada holding off Great Britain at the line for third. Germany finished with a time of 6:13.34, while Canada finished in a 6:16.99, just 0.06 seconds ahead of Great Britain.
“It’s so amazing,” said Lee of winning the gold medal. “I’ve been dreaming of this for so long. I had a sticky note on my wall that said ‘Win gold in the eight’ all summer long, and it feels really good to accomplish that.”
Despite having to race in the repechage, 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) brought home the silver medal, holding off Germany to finish second in the final. Germany got off the line in first position, with the U.S. just behind. During the second quarter of the race, the U.S. crew moved its bowball to the front of the field ahead of Great Britain, Australia, and the Germans. The British crew made its move in the third 500, turning a half-second deficit into a 0.4-second lead as the crews hit the final quarter of the race.
“We had some troubles throughout the heat and the rep just finding it (come) together, getting that lean back, that mid-drive, that connection between us that we hadn’t gotten before,” Kiely said. “We had gotten it in previous pieces, so that was our entire focus going into today — just going to the 750. There was no settling today, just racing.”
The Brits pulled away over the final 500 meters, winning the race in a 5:26.51. The U.S. held off a late charge by Germany to win the silver medal by 0.09 seconds, finishing in a 5:28.90. The Germans took the bronze in a 5:28.99.
“For all of us, it means a lot,” Kiely said. “It’s a testament to all of the work we put in over the summer and at our respective programs. For me personally, coming from a club organization, it’s been forever since somebody from a club has done this, so it means a lot to me personally.”
The U.S. had six other crews racing in B finals on Sunday.
Women’s single sculler Katelin Gildersleeve (Dallas, Texas/Stanford University/Oklahoma City High Performance Center) finished second in the B final for an eighth-place finish overall. Gildersleeve got off the line in third position behind China’s Jiawen Ding and Paraguay’s Nicole Martinez. During the middle 1,000 meters, Gildersleeve pulled up even with Ding, but the Chinese sculler was able to meet the challenge and pulled away during the final stretch. Ding finished with a time of 7:38.03, with Gildersleeve crossing in a 7:41.55. Germany’s Johanna Debus finished third in a 7:45.56, less than a second ahead of Martinez.
In the women’s double sculls, Megan Walsh (Grand Rapids, Minn./University of Oklahoma) and Annie Herring (Dallas, Texas/Brown University) finished fourth in the B final for a 10th-place finish overall. Walsh and Herring dropped into fourth position in the first 500 meters and maintained their spot the entire way down the course. The Netherlands’ Lotte Hansen and Isabel van Opzeeland were basically even with the Hungarian crew of Viktoria Harsanyi and Boglarka Elek at the 500-meter mark, with China’s Ying Liu and Qian Tang a half-second behind. The Dutch boat slowly increased its margin over the middle 1,000 meters before finishing about a length ahead of China at the line. The Netherlands clocked a 7:04.96, with China coming home in a 7:06.96. Hungary finished third in a 7:13.18, while the U.S. crossed in a 7:19.43.
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) also finished fourth in its B final to take 10th overall. Italy got off the line in first, with France and the U.S. just behind. The American boat moved into second position as the crews approached the midway point and continued to row in second entering the final 500 meters. As Italy pulled away, France and China were able to overtake the U.S. crew in the sprint. Italy won the race in a 6:37.25, with France coming back to take second in a 6:39.68. China finished third in a 6:40.28, with the U.S. clocking a 6:41.34.
Lightweight men’s single sculler Christoph Karleskind (Alamo, Calif./Golden State Rowing Club) finished fourth in the B final for a 10th-place finish overall. Karleskind got off the line in sixth position before rowing in fifth place during the middle 1,000 meters. The American chased down Argentina’s Santino Menin in the sprint to take fourth. Menin got off the line in the lead before Brazil’s Joao Vinicius Ferreira Batista moved into the top position. The Brazilian maintained his lead the rest of the way down the course. Belgium’s Mil Blommaert took second ahead of Canada’s Stephen Harris. Brazil won the race in a 7:03.35, with Belgium finishing second in a 7:05.61. Canada took third in a 7:06.63, with Karleskind crossing in a 7:08.54.
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 fifth in the B final for 11th-place overall. The U.S. got off the line in fourth position before dropping to fifth in the second 500 meters. Switzerland took the lead early in the race and held more than a three-second advantage at the midway point. The Czech Republic tried to chase down the Swiss boat during the second half of the race, coming up just short at the line. Switzerland won the race in a 5:44.18, with the Czechs crossing in a 5:44.83. China finished third. The U.S. clocked a 5:57.82.
The lightweight women’s double sculls duo of Aislinn O’Brien (Phoenixville, Pa./St. Joseph’s University) and Katrina Miehlbradt (Auckland, New Zealand/University of Toronto) finished sixth in the B final for a 12th-place finish overall. Paraguay’s Rocio Bordon and Adriana Sanabria took the early lead before Great Britain’s Annabelle Ruinet and Isobel Sellers moved into the top spot in the second quarter of the race. The British crew continued to race at the head of the field the rest of the way down the course. Spain’s Carlota Gonzalez Gil and Teresa Diaz Moreno finished second, followed by Japan’s Marin Kawamura and Mao Kamidate. Great Britain won the race in a 7:10.81, followed by Spain in a 7:12.80 and Japan in a 7:16.88. O’Brien and Miehlbradt finished with a time of 7:27.99.
This year’s World Rowing Under 23 Championships featured more than 750 athletes from 51 nations. Complete press coverage, athlete bios, and links to event information is 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.