It was a busy start to the summer for several members of Olympia Area Rowing (OAR) as girls’ team members Natalie Bailey and Elli Rowley competed at the Under 19 World Championship Trials and eight members of the boys’ squad participated in the 2021 USRowing Youth National Regatta.
Bailey, a junior at Olympia High School, and Rowley, a junior at Capital, finished third overall in the Women 2x at the USRowing U19 world Championship Trials at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida on June 16.
“They came third after an excellent race where they had a storming second half to the race,” said Richard Hull, director of coaching for Olympia Area Rowing.
This marked the first time both Bailey and Rowley competed at a national event.
“Natalie and Elli are a delight to coach. They bring an intense desire to improve and a willingness to do the work necessary,” Hull said. “They have made huge strides in the technical and physical aspects of rowing over the past year, but perhaps most impressively are developing the mental toughness and discipline to be highly successful both in rowing and in life.”
The talented duo followed up their strong performance at the World Championship Trials by participating at the US Junior National Team selection camp in Chula Vista, California. Bailey and Rowley were among 60 of the other top female high school rowers in the country, vying for selection to crews which will race at Worlds, the CanAmMex team, and the Selection Development crews racing at Summer Nationals
“For next year, the sky is the limit,” Hull said about Bailey and Rowley. “They are gaining the experience of training and racing at the highest level.”
A week before Bailey and Rowley’s strong showing in Sarasota, eight members of the OAR mens’ team – Quinn Baker, Cole Jucksch, Ben Burtner, Windsor Pratt, Daniel Cope, Ashton Howe, Cale Matheson and Ryan McCabe – competed in the Sunshine State at the 2021 USRowing Youth National Regatta, a four-day event which featured more than 2,8000 athletes from 188 clubs.
“Our team unity was amazing and the best I have seen in my 30 years of coaching rowing,” said Richard Laurance, OAR men’s team coach. “All the boys seem to genuinely like training together and supported each of the crews that were racing with great passion. They return to Olympia with a desire to return next year and improve on their performances.”
Baker, a sophomore at Olympia, competed in the U17 Men’s 1x, while Olympia junior Jucksch competed in the Men’s 1x. The team of Burtner and Pratt, who are juniors at Olympia and Capital, respectively, participated in the Men’s 2x.
Rounding out the list of OAR competitors was Cope (Olympia High School, senior), Howe (Capital, junior), Matheson (Capital, junior) and McCabe (Olympia, sophomore) in the Men’s 4x.
“I think all the boys performed well,” Laurance said. “Cole, who is in his second year of rowing, just missed by .5 seconds racing in the D final. Many of the boys who finished ahead of him were seniors so next year looks bright if he continues racing the 1x. Quinn Baker finished fifth overall which was a great performance in the Under 17 1x race. At the conclusion of the time trial he was 12th but after semi-finals he advanced to the A final and was competitive all the way down the 2,000 meter course.”
Burner and Pratt finished second in the D final for the Men’s 2x.
“Their time trial time relegated them to a lower final but they had a wonderful race missing winning by about an inch,” Laurance said.
According to Laurance, the team was hampered by COVID restrictions as they were not allowed to practice a 4x until all four athletes had been vaccinated, which did not occur until approximately two weeks prior to racing.
“The eight boys have been practicing together for only about a month,” Laurance said. “COVID-19 restricted our rowing for most of the spring to only rowing in single sculls and only rowing in a group of six. All of the boys improved greatly over our spring racing season starting racing in singles and then progressing into doubles sculls at our regional championships in late May.”
OAR resumes its novice summer camps for middle and high school students interested in learning more about the sport of rowing. Camps operate out of the club’s boathouse at Swantown Marina. A complete list of dates, times and other details, is available at the OAR website.