ROWING: Three Sarasota Crew boats qualify for Grand Finals

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All in running for gold medals Sunday as the USRowing Youth National Championship wraps up at Nathan Benderson Park

SARASOTA

The Sarasota Crew went three-for-three on Saturday when it came to advancing boats into today’s Grand Finals of the 25th annual USRowing Youth National Championship at Nathan Benderson Park.

The Boys’ 8, the defending national champions in the event, the Boys’ Lightweight 8 and the Girls’ Lightweight 8 all finished second in their respective semifinal races to earn a shot at gold medals as the four-day regatta winds up today.

The Girls’ Lightweight 8 was runner-up to Marin County of California by a mere .064 of a second in the biggest nail-biter of the day for the Crew. Isabella Gomez, who sits in the stroke seat, Juliette Schuhmacher, Cecilia Plass, Eiley Maginness, Eva Harris, Chyara Kruger, Elizabeth Jendrysik, Lucy LaCivita and coxswain Graycen Arias covered the 2,000-meter course at NBP in a time of 6 minutes, 49.864 seconds.

“The work ethic of this boat is incredible,” said Gomez, an incoming senior at Lakewood Ranch High. “I have never met such hard-working people before. Everyone is so driven. We all have the same goal and want to work hard for each other.”

The best a Crew Girls’ Lightweight 8 has done at Nationals in the past was a fourth-place finish at West Windsor, New Jersey, in 2016. The boat also finished sixth in the event in 2014 at Rancho Cordova, California. They were 13th last year, again in Rancho Cordova.

“We have to stay focused and keep our heads in it,” Gomez said of today’s A Final. “We just have to make sure we all perform our best.”

Twelve different teams from across the country advanced to Saturday’s semifinals in 18 different races. The top three finishers in each semifinal heat earned berths in today’s A Finals and four through six will race in today’s B Finals.

Miami Belen Jesuit, a private boys school in Miami, sprinted to the finish to just nip the Crew in the Lightweight 8 in 6:02.416. Stroker Logan Brown, William Young, Dylan Fagiani, Kaden Bowles, Christopher Wolf, Samuel Napoliello, Joshua Wang, Troy Riesenberger and coxswain Camille Edwards toured the course in 6:03.144.

Crew boys were 15th in the nation last year in the event. Their top finish in the Boys’ Lightweight 8 was fourth place in 2014.

“This means a lot,” said Bowles, who will be a senior at Sarasota High. “Being part of the Lightweight 8 takes true dedication and teamwork. It does take a lot out of you to make the weight (150-pound limit for lightweight rowers) and train. We try to constantly improve. It’s showing in our results.”

Crew boys in the Varsity or Heavyweight 8s are under pressure to repeat as national champions today. Stroker Harrison Schofield, Julian Wilberding, Alexander DeGrado, Malakai Leon, Owen Corr, Marlon Bayer, Arlie Haire, Cameron Hutchinson and coxswain Bennett Russell toured the course in 5:53.295, behind RowAmerica of Rye, New York, in first place at 5:50.415.

“I’m just happy we are where we are,” veteran Crew head coach Casey Galvanek said. “It’s really exciting.”

The Sarasota Scullers claimed 16th place in the nation by finishing fourth in their C Final of the Girls’ Lightweight 4 on Saturday. Savannah Stewart, in the stroke seat, Ella Gerdes, Julia Stone, Winnie Lu and coxswain Shannon Chan cruised the course in 7:43.087.

The Grand Finals are scheduled to begin Sunday at 7 a.m. All three Sarasota Crew races are slated to take place between 8:30 and 9 a.m. The B Finals will follow.

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