U.S. Eights Golden in Trakai

by Brett Johnson | Jul 15, 2012
TRAKAI, Lithuania – The U.S. men’s and women’s eights brought home gold medals to cap off racing on Sunday at the 2012 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. The victories gave the U.S. three medals at the regatta, including yesterday’s silver in the men’s four with coxswain.
TRAKAI, Lithuania – The U.S. men’s and women’s eights brought home gold medals to cap off racing on Sunday at the 2012 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. The victories gave the U.S. three medals at the regatta, including yesterday’s silver in the men’s four with coxswain.

The U.S. men’s eight defended the world title by holding off Germany in the final 250 meters to win the gold medal. The crew of Sam Ojserkis (Linwood, N.J.), Ian Silveira (West Bloomfield, Mich.), Tom Dethlefs (Lawrenceville, N.J.), Alex Bunkers (Maitland, Fla.), Ryan Schroeder (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Ambrose Puttmann (Cincinnati, Ohio), Gardner Yost (Chicago, Ill.), Rob Munn (Redmond, Wash.) and Jim Voter (Ithaca, N.Y.) trailed Germany through the 1,000-meter mark before upping its rate to take a half-length lead coming into the final 500.

“Since the heat, we’ve been sitting in the hotel, I can say, like a bunch of rabid dogs getting ready to get out there on the race course,” Munn said. “Sure enough, we had the jitters, but we went out and executed our plan right from the get-go.”

“We wanted to get out fast, and we really tried to,” said Silveira. “We were kind of down at the 1,000, and I think with the chemistry and the attitude of the boat, we were able to stay together and push through in the second 1,000 and close when we needed to.”

The U.S. continued to push towards the line as Germany tried to get back on terms. However, the U.S. was able to keep its bow ahead of the Germans, winning by 0.56 seconds. The U.S. finished with a time of 5:47.66, with Germany taking silver in a 5:48.22. Australia won the bronze medal. This was the third gold medal and fourth medal overall in the last five years in the men’s eight.

“That’s what we wanted to do,” Ojserkis said. “It feels like mission accomplished right now. That’s what we set out for in the beginning of the summer.”

The women’s eight of Kendall Schmidt (Greenfield, Wis.), Kristine O’Brien (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), Madison Culp (Seattle, Wash.), Heidi Robbins (Hanover, N.H.), Chrissy Holm (North Oaks, Minn.), Gabbie Cole (Oak Park, Ill.), Taylor Goetzinger (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.), Amanda Elmore (West Lafayette, Ind.) and Emily Walsh (Pittsburgh, Pa.) dominated the field, winning by open water. Great Britain held the U.S. close at the 500-meter mark, but the Americans methodically walked away from the British crew, taking a seven-seat lead by the midway point of the race. The U.S. then shifted into another gear, put the hammer down and expanded its lead to open water in the third 500.

“We had a very special move at the 1,000, and it was a move that worked for us in the race for lanes and a move that we really capitalized on in this race,” Robbins said. “It was a move for Justin Moore’s daughter, Mackenzie Moore. We really wanted to give it to her and give of ourselves what we could to get our bowball over the line for her. On our boat, we had put ‘MM’ with a little smiley face. Those are her initials. I hope she was watching. We were thrilled to have a great race for us and for her.”

“It was absolutely amazing,” Schmidt said. “It was a really big step for us to have our bowball ahead in the first 500, and from there, we just kept trucking along through each meter mark. The wind really came up, and we knew it was going to be difficult. But, we embraced it and we just went after it one stroke at a time, together.”

The open-water lead allowed the crew watch the rest of the field over the final 500 meters. The U.S. crossed the finish line to win the gold medal in a time of 6:25.92, with Germany taking the silver medal and The Netherlands winning bronze. Great Britain faded to fourth. This was the seventh consecutive medal and fourth gold in seven years for the women’s eight.

“It feels great,” Schmidt said. “It’s unbelievable – the journey that we’ve all gone through this summer. We became so close throwing this boat together. Everyone was on the same page, and we all wanted our national anthem being played, so it felt really great.”

The men’s pair of Austin Hack (Old Lyme, Conn.) and Dariush Aghai (Skokie, Ill.) were in medal contention the entire race before falling just short in the last 250 meters, finishing fourth. All six crews were within a boat length of each other in the first 500 meters as Great Britain took a slight advantage over South Africa. The British made a push to gain a two-second advantage over Germany as the crews passed the midway point. Entering the second half of the race, the Americans produced a strong move, taking second position ahead of Germany going into the final 500 meters. Great Britain continued to press forward to the line, with South Africa making a huge charge to overtake Germany and the U.S. in the final stretch. Great Britain won the race in a 6:44.85, followed by South Africa in silver-medal position and Germany with the bronze. The U.S. crossed the line in a 6:50.51.

The U.S. also finished fourth in the lightweight men’s double sculls. The crew of Nick Trojan (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Austin Meyer (Cohoes, N.Y.) dropped more than three seconds off the medal pace in the first 500 meters and could never work back into contention for a top-three position. Austria, Germany and Spain took the race out hard and held the top spots at the 1,000-meter mark. Austria and Germany continued to surge ahead in the second half of the race, with Poland starting a strong move in the third 500 as they did in yesterday’s semifinals. Austria held on to cross the line first in a 6:46.15, with Poland passing Germany for the silver medal. The U.S. finished with a time of 6:54.33. The fourth-place finish was the best ever for a U.S. lightweight men’s double at the championships.

After finishing fourth in its semi and just missing the final, the lightweight men’s four of Daniel Kirrane (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Andy Weiland (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Tyler Nase (Phoenixville, Pa.) and Philip Oertle (Zurich, Switzerland) came back to win the B final in convincing fashion for a seventh-place finish overall. The U.S. established a lead on Canada at the 500-meter mark and continued to extend its advantage over the length of the course. New Zealand passed Canada for second place in the final stretch but finished open water behind the U.S., who crossed the line in a 6:19.60.

Carli Goldberg (Sarasota, Fla.) and Cara Linnenkohl (Redmond, Wash.) finished fourth in the B final of the women’s double sculls for a 10th-place finish overall. Goldberg and Linnenkohl were fourth at each of the 500-meter splits. Ireland’s Holly Nixon and Laura D’Urso grabbed the early lead over Germany and Switzerland before pulling away from the field in the second 500 meters. The Irish double finished with a time of 7:28.40, followed by Switzerland and Germany. Goldberg and Linnenkohl finished with a time of 7:38.89.

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