PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY USROWING
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The women’s four brought home gold, while six other U.S. boats won medals, to highlight the final day of racing at World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy.
In addition to gold in the women’s four, the U.S. won silver in the lightweight women’s double sculls, women’s pair, women’s double sculls, and men’s double sculls, as well as bronze in the men’s four and women’s single sculls on Sunday. With yesterday’s silver medal in the lightweight women’s single sculls, the U.S. won eight medals in Varese including one gold, five silver, and two bronze.
The women’s four of 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/USRowing Training Center – Princeton), and Claire Collins (McLean, Va./Princeton University/USRowing Training Center – Princeton) grabbed the lead just before the midway point of the race and pulled away from Great Britain to earn the victory. The British crew took the early lead, with the U.S. sitting 0.20 seconds behind at the 500-meter mark. The Americans pulled their bowball ahead during the second 500 meters and then used a solid third 500 meters to take control of the race. The U.S. continued to extend its advantage over the final quarter of the race, finishing with a time of 6:17.55. Great Britain won the silver medal in a 6:19.76, with Australia taking bronze in a 6:22.14.
“We were really excited to race today’s final knowing it was going to be a tight race,” Bruggeman said. “We have been lucky to be pushed every day in practice by our teammates, so we were ready for that situation. We have the best teammates here and at home in Princeton, who are all to thank for helping us achieve this world cup medal. We are excited to keep improving on our way to Serbia.”
In the lightweight women’s double sculls 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) came up just short of the gold medal as Great Britain’s Emily Craig and Imogen Grant, who won the gold medal at last year’s world championships, edged them at the line by a bowball. France’s Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalists, got off the line in first position before the Americans took the lead in the second 500 meters. The U.S. extended its advantage over the third quarter of the race, taking a little more than a half-boat lead over Craig and Grant as the crews hit 500 meters to go. The Americans still held a deck lead on the British boat with 250 meters to the line, but Craig and Grant were able to edge their bowball ahead in the final two strokes. Great Britain, who set a world’s best time in yesterday’s semifinal, won the race in a 6:44.04, with the U.S. finishing in a 6:44.12. France won the bronze medal in a 6:48.46.
The women’s pair of Alie Rusher (West Bend, Wis./Stanford University/California Rowing Club) and Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y./Ithaca College/California Rowing Club) also brought home the silver medal. Rusher, a Tokyo 2020 Olympian, and Musnicki, a three-time Olympian, came together just a few days before the 2023 Winter Speed Order in March and then won the 2023 National Selection Regatta in late April. World Cup II was their first opportunity to test their speed against an international field. In today’s final, the duo sat in second position behind Australia the entire way down the course. Australia’s Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre took the early lead and pulled away from the rest of the field in the second 500 meters. At the same time, Rusher and Musnicki were establishing their hold on second place over Spain and the second U.S. crew of Jessica Thoennes (Highlands Ranch, Colo./University of Washington/USRowing Training Center – Princeton) and Charlotte Buck (Nyack, N.Y./Columbia University/USRowing Training Center – Princeton). Australia continued to build on its lead over the back half of the race, crossing the line in a 6:51.74 to win gold. Rusher and Musnicki took the silver medal in a 6:57.14, with Spain winning bronze in a 7:02.17. Thoennes and Buck finished fourth in a 7:03.63.
“I am incredibly proud of our performance as a boat throughout the regatta,” Musnicki said. “This is Alie’s first world cup appearance and my first time back since Tokyo, so we knew it was going to be a learning and re-learning experience, so to speak, for both of us. I’m sure like all boats, we wanted to come out of each race with something to work on for the next, progressing as the weekend went on. To come away with a silver and qualify ourselves to represent the USA in the women’s pair is a great feeling. We will enjoy this moment and then head back to (California Rowing Club) to go to work for nine weeks.”
The U.S. took another silver medal in the women’s double sculls, missing gold by just a bowball. Kristi Wagner (Weston, Mass/Yale University/ARION) and Sophia Vitas (Franklin, Wisc./University of Wisconsin/Texas Rowing Center) sat in fifth position through the 1,000-meter mark before using the fastest third 500 meters to move into second place. China’s second boat got off to the fastest start before the top Chinese crew of Shiyu Lu and Shuangmei Shen took the lead in the second 500 meters. Lu and Shen continued to lead as the crews made their final sprint with Wagner and Vitas closing the gap on each stroke. At the line, China had won the race in a 6:41.43, with the Americans crossing in a 6:41.50. France took the bronze medal in a 6:43.03. 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) finished fifth, clocking a 6:53.32.
“The double was a fun race,” Wagner said. “We came a little short of the win, but we gave it everything we had. Racing in both the doubles and quad was a challenge, but I’m so proud of my boatmates for giving it our all. Excited to get home and back to work after a little bit of rest, so we can keep improving.”
The 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) gave the U.S. its fourth silver medal of the day. China got off the line in first position before the Americans were able to take the lead at the midway point of the race, just ahead of China and Italy. The Italian crew of Luca Rambaldi and Matteo Sartori moved into first place during the third quarter of the race, holding a 0.20-second advantage over the Americans as the boats crossed the 1,500-meter mark. Italy was able to move away from the U.S. in the final 500 meters, winning the race in a 6:06.45. Koszyk and Davison finished second in a 6:07.76, with China’s Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang taking third.
“We were happy enough with the race today,” Davison said. “We feel like we have been able to come here and put down three consistent races. Each time down the course, we were able to make some improvements. Coming into the regatta, we really just wanted to see if this was a combination worth pursuing, and we now know that it is. This gives us some confidence as we prepare for the world championships in nine weeks.”
In the men’s four, 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) brought home the bronze medal. Great Britain and Australia battled each other for the top spot the entire way down the course, with the U.S. settling into third during the second quarter of the race. Great Britain held a slight advantage on Australia at the midway point, and while Australia was able to keep the pressure on during the back half, the British boat was able to keep them at bay. Great Britain won the race in a 5:42.24, with Australia crossing in a 5:43.19. The U.S. won the bronze medal in a 5:48.91.
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 bronze in today’s final behind Germany’s Alexandra Foester and Australia’s Tara Rigney. Rigney got off to a strong start, with Kohler sitting in fifth place about a length back at the 500-meter mark. Rigney, Foester, and Kohler began to get separation from the rest of the field in the second 500 meters, with Rigney holding the top spot over Foester by about a half-second and Kohler sitting in third still about a length behind the Australian. In the third 500, Foester and Kohler began to move on Rigney. The two challengers sat even, about a half-length back, as the scullers entered the final 500 meters. That’s when the German upped her rate, overtaking Rigney and pulling away for a length victory. Rigney held off Kohler at the line to win the silver medal. Foester won the race in a 7:20.31, with Rigney finishing second in a 7:22.40. Kohler brought home the bronze medal in a 7:22.75.
“I really believed I could break that barrier to gold and win that race today; however, didn’t quite nail the first 500 sharpness that I think came together quite nicely in the preliminary races here in Varese,” Kohler said. “Figuring out how to get off the line cleanly and efficiently has been a big focus of mine the past few months. Had to dig pretty deep in the second half of the race to pull back on Alex and Tara. I knew going into the race if I didn’t have a healthy lead on Alex, my chances of outpacing her finishing speed were pretty slim. Definitely a lot of positive takeaways from this regatta to build on over the next couple months before the world championships.”
In the final of the men’s pair, Justin Best (Kennett Square, Pa./Drexel University/California Rowing Club) and Pieter Quinton (Portland, Ore./Harvard University/California Rowing Club) placed fourth, finishing just off the medal stand. Great Britain’s Oliver Wynne-Griffith and Tom George led the race from start to finish, clocking a 6:13.15 to win gold ahead of Switzerland and Australia. Best and Quinton sat in fourth position the entire way down the course. The U.S. finished with a time of 6:22.60.
Andrew Gaard (Madison, Wis/University of Washington/California Rowing Club) and Oliver Bub (Westport, Conn./Dartmouth College/California Rowing Club) came back to win the B final of the men’s pair, finishing seventh overall. After getting off the line in sixth position and sitting in fifth place at the midway point, Gaard and Bub rowed through the field over the second half of the race to earn the victory. Poland took the early lead before Denmark inched into the top spot at the 1,000-meter mark. But the U.S. used the fastest third 500 to pull within a half-second of the Polish crew, which had regained the lead, as the boats entered the final quarter of the race. Gaard and Bub built on that momentum during the final 500 meters, pulling away for a 2.26-second victory. The U.S. boat finished with a time of 6:33.26, with Poland taking second in a 6:35.52.
The lightweight women’s double sculls 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) also won the B final to finish seventh overall. Poland and Australia took the early lead, with the American crew sitting less than one second off the pace 500 meters into the race. Boersen and Jones Nabel rowed through Australia in the second quarter before overtaking Poland in the third 500 meters. The Americans pulled away in the final stretch to win by 2.41 seconds, clocking a 6:50.76. Poland finished second in a 6:53.17.
Before racing in the finals of the women’s double sculls, O’Connor, Wagner, Vitas, and Kallfelz won the B final of the women’s quadruple sculls to finish seventh overall. The U.S. took the lead in the first 500 meters and continued to build the advantage through the 1,500-meter mark. Australia, who sat in second place throughout the race, made a slight push in the final 500 meters, but the Americans kept them at a comfortable distance to win the race by nearly two seconds. The U.S. finished with a time of 6:20.35, with Australia clocking a 6:22.24.
Andrew Mangan (Buffalo, N.Y./Stanford University/West Side Rowing Club/Bair Island Aquatic Center) finished third in the B final of the PR1 men’s single sculls for a ninth-place finish overall. Mangan sat in third position at each of the 500-meter splits, clocking a 10:14.40. Ukraine’s Pavlo Liahov won the race in a 9:57.50, besting Mexico’s Michel Munoz Malagon by just over nine seconds. Malagon, who led at the 500-meter mark, stroked a 10:06.56.
In the B final of the lightweight men’s double sculls, the U.S. crews finished third and fourth, respectively. Jimmy McCullough (Philadelphia, Pa./University of Delaware/Texas Rowing Center) and Sam Melvin (Huntington Beach, Calif./Columbia University/New York Athletic Club) got off to a strong start, taking a slight lead in the first 500 meters ahead of Australia. The Aussies moved ahead during the second quarter of the race, with McCullough and Melvin dropping back to second position and teammates Jasper Liu (Phoenix, Ariz./University of Pennsylvania/Texas Rowing Center) and Zachary Heese (Pelham, N.Y./University of Virginia/Texas Rowing Center) moving into third. The U.S. boats held those positions into the final sprint before Belgium was able to put its bowball ahead in the final few strokes. Australia won the race in a 6:17.35, with Belgium finishing in a 6:17.84. McCullough and Melvin held off Liu and Heese by 0.03 seconds, taking third in a 6:18.10 to finish ninth overall. Liu and Heese crossed the line in a 6:18.13, finishing 10th overall.
By virtue of winning the 2023 National Selection Regatta and then placing high enough here in Varese, women’s single sculler Kara Kohler , the men’s double sculls duo of Sorin Koszyk and Ben Davison, and the women’s pair of Alie Rusher and Meghan Musnicki all earned the opportunity to represent the U.S. in their respective events at the 2023 World Rowing Championships this September in Belgrade, Serbia. The three boats have until 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 19, to declare their intent to compete. Click here to see the complete 2023 Senior National Team Selection Procedures.
More than 650 athletes from 42 nations competed in Varese. Full event coverage is 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.