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Testing the waters at 2016 World Cup II

by Allison Müller, allison@usrowing.org | May 27, 2016
The opening day of competition at 2016 World Rowing Cup II saw U.S. crews in new combinations and several Rio-qualified lineups testing their speed against a tough international field. The last major international competition before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the event provides that chance to “shake out the cobwebs” and sharpen up. Highlighting competition on Friday, both U.S. entries of the women’s pair and women’s single sculler Gevvie Stone (Newton, Mass.) won their heats to advance to the semifinals, while the U.S. men’s four advanced directly to the final with a second-place finish in its heat.
LUCERNE, Switzerland – The opening day of competition at 2016 World Rowing Cup II saw U.S. crews in new combinations and several Rio-qualified lineups testing their speed against a tough international field. The last major international competition before the 2016 Olympic Games, the event provides that chance to “shake out the cobwebs” and sharpen up before Rio.

USA women's pair Grace and FeliceHighlighting competition on Friday, both U.S. entries of the women’s pair and women’s single sculler Gevvie Stone (Newton, Mass.) won their heats to advance to the semifinals, while the U.S. men’s four advanced directly to the final with a second-place finish in its heat.

A total of eight U.S. crews advanced to the next round of racing. In addition, the two-time defending Olympic champion women’s eight and freshly-qualified Rio men’s eight raced in preliminary races for lanes.

“I think that with a big group like this, you get some crews that race really well and some that are a little rusty or need to find another gear,” said USRowing High Performance Director Curtis Jordan. “That’s the reason we come here, to test out some combinations and test out racing, and I think that’s what we’re seeing.

“Boats that have raced over the weekend (at the final qualification regatta) have shaken out a little bit of the cobwebs and may be a little bit sharper. I expect the crews that just got here to build through the regatta.”

Mens FourCobwebs or not, it’s on to the final for the defending world cup champion men’s four of Seth Weil (Menlo Park, Calif.), Henrik Rummel (Pittsford, N.Y.), Matt Miller (Fairfax, Va.) and Charlie Cole (New Canaan, Conn.). Racing in the second of two heats, the U.S. was third off the line behind Argentina and The Netherlands, where they stayed through the halfway mark. Argentina fell back, and the U.S. worked its way through the Dutch crew, crossing the finish line 0.57 seconds behind them in second.

“We weren’t completely happy with it, but it was a decent start to the regatta and we’re in the final. We just have to improve from here,” said Cole, who won Olympic bronze in the event in 2012 with Rummel. “The more races we can get, the better. We’ve got a lot to improve on in every part of the race.”

“It was not our best race,” agreed U.S. men’s four coach Bryan Volpenhein, “but based on what we’ve been doing at home, what we expect from this regatta, I think we have room to go. We’re excited for the final and just glad we made it in. I thought our last 500 meters was good. We executed that well, and we’ll see what we can do.”

Kicking off the morning, the USA1 entry of Grace Luczak (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Felice Mueller (Cleveland, Ohio) led from wire to wire, posting the fastest time of the heats of the women’s pair in a 7:06.28 to lock in their place in the semifinals. Luczak and Mueller won the event at 2016 National Selection Regatta I and can earn Olympic qualification with a top-four finish here. New Zealand finished second in 7:10.80.

Elle and MeghanIn the third heat, USA2 of two-time Olympic champion Eleanor Logan (Boothbay Harbor, Maine) and 2012 Olympic champion Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y.) posted a 7:07.59 ahead of South Africa’s 7:10.85. Both crews advance to the Saturday semifinals.

Luczak, Mueller, Logan and Musnicki joined Katelin Snyder (Detroit, Mich.), Tessa Gobbo (Chesterfield, N.H), Amanda Elmore (West Lafayette, Ind.), Lauren Schmetterling (Moorestown, N.J.) and Emily Regan (Buffalo, N.Y.) to win the women’s eight race for lanes in the afternoon. The U.S. has not lost a championship or Olympic race in the event since 2006, and will take on Canada, Russia, New Zealand and Great Britain in Sunday’s final.

Gevvie StoneIn the women’s single sculls, Stone won her heat in a 7:35.19 to advance to the semifinals. Czech Republic’s Miroslava Topinkova Knapkova led for the first half of the race, but was overtaken at the 1,500-meter mark. Stone, who posted the fastest time of the talented19-boat field, earned her spot on the Rio roster last month at trials. The 2012 Olympian finished fourth at last year’s world championships and won silver and bronze medals in world cup competition last year.

The 2016 Olympic lightweight men’s double of Andrew Campbell, Jr. (New Canaan, Conn.) and Joshua Konieczny (Millbury, Ohio) also advanced to the semifinals with a second-place finish in its heat. Norway won in 6:21.26, with the U.S. in 6:23.33 and Great Britain in 6:37.22.

lm2xIn the lightweight men's single sculls, USA2’s nine-time national team member Austin Meyer (Cohoes, N.Y.) finished second in his heat to advance to the semifinals, posting a 7:10.12 to Slovenia’s 7:06.15. The USA1 entry of Hugh McAdam (Hollis, N.H.) didn’t advance from the heats, but returned in the afternoon repechages to finish third and qualify for the semis in a 7:17.07.

Lightweight women's single sculler Michelle Sechser (Folsom, Calif.) also failed to advance in the heats, but returned to win the repechage and earn a spot in Saturday’s semifinals, clocking a 7:46.79 at the line. Sechser was in the lightweight double the past two world championships and qualified that boat class for Rio.

Men’s single scullers, two-time Olympian Ken Jurkowski (New Fairfield, Conn.) and Thomas Graves (Cincinnati, Ohio), both advanced out of the morning heats, with Graves clocking a 7:13.62 to win the sixth heat and Jurkowski in third with a 7:09.88 in heat two. Returning in the afternoon quarterfinals, however, neither succeeded in advancing to the semifinals.

Jurkowski, who raced in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta earlier this week, but was eliminated from competition in the repechages, finished fourth in the first race in a 6:57.02; Graves finished fourth in the second race with a 7:03.18. Both race in Saturday’s C final.

Kate Bertko (Oakland, Calif.) and Devery Karz (Park City, Utah) finished fifth in the morning heat. Canada’s Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee led from the start and won in 6:56.56. China advanced in second with a 6:57.98. The U.S. crew that will race in Rio returned to the afternoon repechages, but finished just out of third place and will now race in the C final.

The U.S. sent two women’s quadruple sculls crews to the start line on Friday, and both are headed to the repechages with third and fourth-place finishes in the heats. In USA1, Kerry Simmonds (San Diego, Calif.), Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif.), Tracy Eisser (Fair Lawn, N.J.) and Megan Kalmoe (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) were fourth off of the start. The Netherlands led each of the 500-meter marks to win in 6:21.30 and advance to the final. Australia crossed second with 6:23.20, followed by China in 6:25.30 and the U.S. in 6:29.37.

USA2's Emily Huelskamp (Sainte Genevieve), Olivia Coffey (Watkins Glen, N.Y.), Amanda Polk (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Grace Latz (Jackson, Mich.) lined up in the second heat with Germany and Poland. Germany controlled the race immediately with Poland close behind, and crossed the finish line first in 6:19.78. Poland finished second in 6:21.92, with the U.S. in third in 6:31.42.

Willy Cowles (Farmington, Conn.) and Stephen Whelpley (Moquon, Wis.) finished sixth in their heat of the men’s double sculls and will race in the reps Saturday. The Craftsbury Sculling Center crew rowed in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta earlier this week, but finished sixth in the final. A top-two placement was needed to qualify the boat for Rio.

The U.S. men’s quad finished fourth in the second heat, and will race in Saturday’s repechages. Craftsbury’s Ben Davison (Inverness, Fla.), Ben Dann (Pound Ridge, N.Y.), John Graves (Cincinnati, Ohio) and 2012 Olympian Peter Graves (Cincinnati, Ohio) return to the Rotsee after having finished fourth in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta last weekend, just two spots out of qualification.

Fresh off of its Rio-qualifying win on Tuesday, the U.S. men’s eight crew of coxswain Sam Ojserkis (Linwood, N.J.), Austin Hack (Old Lyme, Conn.), Rob Munn (Redmond, Wash.), Mike DiSanto (Boston, Mass.), Steve Kasprzyk (Cinnaminson, N.J.), Glenn Ochal (Philadelphia, Pa.), Alex Karwoski (Hollis, N.H.), Hans Struzyna (Kirkland, Wash.) and Sam Dommer (Folsom, Calif.) finished sixth in its race for lane placement against Germany, New Zealand, Russia, Great Britain and The Netherlands. Great Britain is the reigning world champion. Germany is the defending Olympic champion and won silver at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, while The Netherlands won bronze.

Racing continues Saturday morning on the Rotsee course in Lucerne, Switzerland. Follow racing via live race tracker and audio commentary at www.worldrowing.com. Be a part of the conversation with #RowToRio and #WCII.

USRowing's event photo gallery is updated daily here.
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