Tag Archives: US Rowing Youth National Championships

Saugatuck Girls Win Groundbreaking Gold

We see them on the river — at dawn, after dusk and in all kinds of weather. The women, men, girls and boys of the Saugatuck Rowing Club are some of Westport’s most accomplished — and unheralded — athletes.

Last weekend, SRC rowers competed at the youth national championships in Sarasota, Florida. One boat earned a groundbreaking gold. Here’s proud mom Debbie McGinley’s report:

Parents and athletes landed at JFK near midnight Sunday after an adrenaline-filled finish to the USRowing Youth Nationals. Earlier in the hot day — as spectators cheered and coaches biked madly along the course — the Saugatuck Rowing Club women’s youth 8+ crew surged ahead of the field to win a club history 3rd straight national title.

The SRC women pulled even with the crew from Marin, California at 500 meters, took the lead at 1000 meters and powered ahead to finish in front by 3 seconds.

Saugatuck Rowing Club’s championship boat, in action.

Sunday’s win capped a 3-year undefeated run, during which it 3-peated youth rowing’s triple crown: the Head of the Charles Regatta, San Diego Crew Classic and Youth National Championships.

A June rowing event in Florida brings weather-related challenges. Thunderstorms caused practice times and races to be postponed, sending the SRC rowers scrambling to a local gym for an impromptu spinning workout.

Sunday’s finals were condensed so crews could pack up their boats, load their trailers and clear the course before more thunderstorms arrived.

SRC’s experienced rowers had seen it all before. The group includes 2 USRowing women’s junior national team members; one who medaled at the World Junior Rowing Championships in August, and USRowing Fan’s Choice Junior Athlete of the Year.

The 6 seniors on the winning boat include 3 from Staples High School. This fall they head to great colleges: Grace McGinley (Stanford), Imogen Ratcliffe (Cal-Berkeley) and Willemijn ten Cate (Princeton).

Two other Staples students joined them: junior Kelsey McGinley and sophomore Noelle Amlicke.

SRC’s women’s youth 8+ crew celebrates its 3rd staight national championship. Staples students include Noelle Amlicke, (2nd from left); Grace McGinley (3rd from left); Willemijn ten Cate (right of coxswain); Imogen Ratcliffe (3rd from right) and Kelsey McGinley (2nd from right).

In addition to the winners, SRC — under junior head coaches Sharon Kriz and Gordon Getsinger — had 4 other Top 10 finishers.

All were inspired by texts from younger rowers back home.

On Monday morning — after just 4 hours of sleep — the rowers headed back to school to prepare for finals, or to their senior internships. Today — after a marathon drive by their coaches pulling trailers back from Florida — the rowers return to the club.

They’ll unload and rig their boats, then hit the water again.

After all, there are many more races to win.

The SRC women’s 8+ winning race begins below at 2:31:30.




Saugatuck Scholar-Athletes Stroke To Success

“06880” seldom runs sports stories. If we did, we’d be inundated by every team and parent in town. Besides, something called the “sports section” of newspapers covers all that.

But I’m always happy to give props to national champions. I’m even happier when those athletes come with a great, non-athletic back story. So here goes.

Last weekend, at the USRowing Youth National Championships in West Windsor, New Jersey, Saugatuck Rowing Club‘s juniors repeated as gold medalists in 2 events — a first for any youth rowing team anywhere. Plus, the men’s youth pair took a bronze.

Saugatuck Rowing Club's women's youth openweight 8+ team celebrates after their national championship win.

Saugatuck Rowing Club’s women’s youth openweight 8+ team celebrates after their national championship win.

Over 400 boats and 1,700 athletes — representing almost 180 rowing clubs from 30 states — competed. Saugatuck’s 50 rowers included nearly 30 from Westport.

The national titles follow other great victories, at the Head of the Charles (with a new course record) and San Diego Crew Classic, and US representation by Staples High School seniors Oliver Bub and Lucas Manning at last year’s World Junior Rowing Championships in Rio de Janeiro.

Sharon Kriz, Oliver Bub and Lucas Manning, after earning a bronze medal at the men's youth pair national championship.

Saugatuck Rowing Club youth director and boys head coach Sharon Kriz, Oliver Bub and Lucas Manning, after earning a bronze medal at the men’s youth pair national championship.

Crew may be the most physically demanding of all sports. Saugatuck’s rowers practice year-round, often 6 to 10 times a week, with sessions before school and doubles on weekends.

Yet many of the local club’s boys and girls carry GPAs of 4.0 and higher. They find time to be Eagle Scouts, president of the National Honor Society, leaders of clubs like Save the Children and Catering for Kindness, chair of the Westport Youth Commission, board members of Safe Rides, volunteers with Builders Beyond Borders, and more.

They’ve received awards of excellence in Latin, and as Advanced Placement Scholars with Distinction.

Graduating seniors from Westport will continue their rowing careers at schools like Boston College, Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgetown, Hobart, Middlebury, MIT, Penn, Princeton and Tufts.

SRC seniors pose proudly with the shirts of the colleges they'll row for.

SRC seniors pose proudly, wearing gear of the colleges they’ll row for.

All that excellence didn’t just happen, of course. They’ve had great role models — in their families, their schools, and through Saugatuck junior director and boys head coach Sharon Kriz, herself a former US national team competitor and current president of Westport’s Kiwanis Club.

That’s the kind of sports story I love.

And if these talented, well-rounded and very hard-working young rowers have a spare second to read this, here’s hoping they’ll accept our town’s hearty congratulations too.

Members of Saugatuck's women's youth openweight 8+ team boat cheer as the lightweight girls are about to join them on the winners' podium.

Members of Saugatuck’s women’s youth openweight 8+ team boat cheer as the lightweight girls are about to join them on the winners’ podium.