Two Greenwich Crew teams competed last weekend in the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The lightweight 8+ consisting of coxswain Giulia Volterra (sophomore), Julie Sussman (senior), Chelsea Oarr (junior), Lara Tiramani (senior, captain), Sophie Grueterich (senior), Whitney Lees (sophomore), Nicole Birkhold (junior), Gillian Burke (sophomore) and Maddie Harrison (junior) and the 1x rowed by Hannah Balikci (junior) raced in Tennessee.
Balikci who just started racing in the 1x this season, used her heat and repechage races to continue to build confidence. In the C final, Balikci dug deep to find a second gear as she came through the 1,000-meter mark. She was a boat length down to the other boat in her race, as she entered the last 800 meters of the race. Balikci's never-say-die attitude came through as she made her move in front of a cheering crowd, going from a boat length down to a boat length up in 300 meters. She kept digging, finishing off the 2,000-meter race in 9:03.68, two boat lengths up on her competition. Balikci finished 13th overall for the regatta.
The lightweight 8+ faced a challenging road, as they worked to improve on its performance from last year's Youth Nationals. The 8+ raced to a third place finish in the repechage, beating out Westerville, Ohio, by less then a second to qualify for the semifinals. Racing later in the day, in what proved to be exhausting temperatures, the lightweight 8+ took fifth place in its semifinal, qualifying them for the B finals.
The lightweight 8+ had a good start in the B final but was down passing the 800-meter mark. In what became a theme of the weekend, the girls found a second gear and showed their grit as they calmly picked off their competition, making a move from fifth place to fighting for second in 400 meters. Hitting the 1,600-meter mark, the 8+ used an early sprint called by coxswain Giulia Volterra to open up the lead on Miami, rowing to a convincing second place finish in the race. The lightweight 8+ finished eighth overall for the regatta.
Seniors Sophie Grueterich (Villanova), Julie Sussman (Dartmouth) and Lara Tiramani (Wisconsin) provided the steady, focused leadership needed for a crew to be successful. They will be missed as they seek to continue their rowing careers in college. Greenwich Crew will look to Balikci and the returning six girls from the lightweight 8+ for leadership this fall as it starts preparations for a return to Oak Ridge in 2012.
What do you think about the performance by Greenwich Crew at Nationals? Start the discussion below!
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.