By Nadia Anne Anderson
The Western Albemarle High School rowing team traveled to the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championship Regatta in Sarasota, Florida, June 10-13 for the opportunity to bring home championship titles.
Three Western Albemarle boats qualified for the event under revised U.S. Rowing Covid guidelines. “The entire team demonstrated considerable perseverance over the past year,” Head Coach Craig Redinger said. When the pandemic hit last spring and Western Albemarle Rowing was forced to shut down its program temporarily, its rowers trained at home on rowing machines.
Three boats qualified for the prestigious event: a womens under 17 double (WU172x) rowed by sophomores Lydia Pelton and Laney Young, a mens double (M2x) rowed by juniors Lucas Farmer and Will Donovan, and a men’s under 17 quad (M4x) rowed by sophomores Jack Mehnert and Ryan Kennedy and juniors Jeremy Burke and Tate Kessler.
One challenge facing Western rowers at the national regatta was that teams from various parts of the country didn’t have the same degree of pandemic restrictions. Additionally, the crews were up against more skilled rowers, many of them college-bound seniors who have been rowing for years.
“The competition is aggressive,” Redinger said, “and our rowers excelled under the pressure.”
Juniors Farmer and Donovan placed sixth in their 2x semifinal Friday, advancing to the finals to take ninth place overall in the nation with a time of 7:02.654.
Sophomores Pelton and Young finished fourth in their semifinal, a mere tenth of a second behind third place. In the finals on Saturday, they improved their time by 9 seconds, with the seventh fastest time to place eighth in the nation.
“It was a spectacular finish for all our rowers who qualified. They showed the commitment needed to win at this level,” Redinger said, “and we can’t wait for the challenges of the 2021-22 season.”