Light 8 boat pulling weight for UA boys
During his nearly 20 years as Upper Arlington High School boys rowing coach, Chris Swartz has guided lightweight 8 boats featuring more physically imposing athletes than the ones he's working with this season.
There's something to be said, however, regarding the mental toughness needed to become a top boat at the national level, and Swartz believes this group has that.
In the Midwest Junior rowing championships held May 19 and 20 on Harsha Lake in Batavia, the boys light 8 of Griffith Brown, Addison Moore, Will Byrd, Zach Dickinson, John Masters, Erich Schick, Ian Briggs, Sam Klamar and coxswain Will Berg earned a runner-up finish in 6 minutes, 26.8 seconds.
The boat will represent the Golden Bears in the USRowing Youth Nationals from June 8-10 on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The event includes high school and club teams.
That same light 8 will be among five boats UA will send to the Scholastic Rowing Association of America (SRAA) Nationals on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, in Camden, N.J. That is specifically for high school teams.
"They're a little bit more fit than my (varsity 8) and they worked out hard over the winter," Swartz said. "These guys seem to have a little bit of motivation and Will Berg is a very good coxswain. I've had maybe some sharper lightweight boats, but these guys just row hard."
The Bears expect to take 15 boys and 29 girls to SRAA Nationals after placing third overall in the Midwest Scholastic Championships on May 12 and 13 on Harsha Lake.
In that meet, the girls varsity 8 stroked by Zoe Ribar was third (5:38.2), the boys light 8 stroked by Brown was second (5:11.1) and the girls junior 8 stroked by Bridget Schodorf was first (5:33.9).
Also competing at SRAA Nationals will be the boys first varsity 4 (fifth, 5:45.8) and the girls second varsity 8 (second, 5:50.1).
The girls light 4 was third (6:49.1) and the girls varsity 4 was fourth (6:23.2) in the Midwest Scholastic Championships to also qualify for SRAA Nationals, but neither boat is expected to compete.
"I was very happy that the girls showed so well (in the Midwest Scholastic Championships)," coach Mike Rice said. "The last time Upper Arlington won the combined points trophy was in 2002, and our girls this year actually took second and the team combined for third overall, so that's a strong finish."
Also reaching a grand final in addition to the boys light 8 in the Midwest Junior championships were the girls light 8 stroked by Ribar (sixth, 7:13.6), the girls light 4 stroked by Grace Saalman (sixth, 8:31) and the boys varsity 4 stroked by Zach Politz (7:43.7).
The boys varsity 8 stroked by Politz won the petite final (6:32.5) and was seventh overall, and the boys light 4 stroked by Brown won the petite final (7:34.8) to also place seventh.
Westerville qualifies boys boat to nationals
The Westerville club team will send its boys light 4 to Youth Nationals on June 8-10.
In the Midwest Junior championships, the boat that consisted of David Caspers (home-schooled), Ryan Kesselring (Westerville Central), Patrick LeCorgne (St. Charles), Danny Just (Westerville North) and coxswain Taylor Gainey (Pickerington North) was second (7:02.6).
The boat finished just behind the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club (7:00.3).
"It was a pretty tough race, but it was very exciting," said Caspers, who will row for the University of Delaware. "There was a lot of competition, but we managed to qualify. (Cincinnati) edged us out of first by just a little bit and we learned what we need to improve on."
Caspers, Just and LeCorgne all competed the last two years at Youth Nationals in Westerville's lightweight 8 boat, and LeCorgne was on that boat last year when Westerville placed fourth at nationals.
Caspers moved to Westerville from Virginia and has been with the program since his freshman year.
"I definitely see (the members of our light 4) standing on the medal stand (at Youth Nationals)," Caspers said. "It was a little bit of a disappointment not to win (in the Midwest Junior championships) but we still have three weeks of training to go."
Advancing to grand finals but failing to move on to nationals from the Midwest Junior championships were the boys first varsity 4 stroked by Ben Leonard (fifth, 7:24.3), the boys light 8 stroked by Johannes Axt (fifth, 6:39.7), the girls light 8 stroked by Kelsy Michely (fourth, 7:34.1) and the girls varsity 4 stroked by Tatiana Lundstrom (seventh, 8:33).
Dublin boats just miss out on nationals
The Dublin club rowing team had four boats make a grand final but didn't have any advance to Youth Nationals from the Midwest Junior championships.
The girls varsity 8 was fourth (7:01.9), the boys light 4 placed fourth (7:29.5), the boys varsity 8 took fifth (6:37.7) and the girls varsity 4 placed sixth (8:28). Both girls boats were stroked by senior Victoria Langwasser and both boys boats were stroked by senior Mac Workman.
"It's bittersweet," girls coach Gina Crooks said. "In years past we just wanted Dublin to make it to grand finals. Next year we're just hoping they can make it to nationals and take it a step further."
Crooks, who along with Jared Crooks have led the program the last four seasons, aren't expecting to return next year. According to Jared Crooks, Dublin will be looking for a coach over the coming months.
Both the boys and girls teams will have experienced varsity rowers returning. Among the underclassmen who competed on the girls varsity 8 were juniors Tess Cassidy and Maddie Irelan and sophomore Treasa O'Tighearnaigh.
Junior Luke Neuroth and sophomore Hudson Ozello will be among the top returnees for the boys team.
"During the last two years, the program has increased by leaps and bounds," Jared Crooks said.