U.S. Wins Four Gold, Five Total Medals Saturday at World Rowing Under 23 Championships

United States’ crews wasted no time setting the tone during Saturday’s finals, winning gold in the first three medal races of the afternoon before going on to claim four gold and five total medals on the first day of finals at the 2018 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Poznan, Poland.

The U.S. won gold in the women’s four with coxswain, men’s four with coxswain, lightweight women’s pair and women’s pair, while adding a bronze medal in the lightweight men’s quadruple sculls.

The women’s four with coxswain of Izzi Weiss (Chicago, Ill./University of Virginia), Sarah Johanek (Cleveland, Ohio/Rutgers University), Samantha Lamos (Petaluma, Calif./University of California, Berkeley), Jennifer Mundelius (Danville, Calif./Brown University) and Carlisle Wheeler (Brewster, Mass./University of California, Los Angeles) opened up the afternoon finals with a convincing victory, winning the gold medal by more than six seconds. The U.S. had a three-quarter-length lead at 500 meters and had open water by the 1,000-meter mark. The U.S. continued to push its advantage over the back half of the race, winning by about two lengths of open water. The crew clocked a 7:02.60 to win the inaugural race of the women’s four with coxswain at the U23 championships. Italy finished second in a 7:08.97, with Russian winning the bronze medal.

“It was really exciting,” Weiss said. “This was the first year of the coxed four event, ever. I think we really didn’t know what to expect. No one has any information on what a gold-medal standard is, so we just worked really hard all summer, and we were really, really excited with the outcome. The boat responded really well. It was just a great race. We had no idea what we were in for, and we couldn’t be happier.”

In the men’s four with coxswain, the crew of coxswain Woods Connell (Bethesda, Md./Yale University), Viggo Hoite (Berkeley, Calif./Brown University), Alex Miklasevich (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brown University), William Creedon (Denver, Colo./University of California, Berkeley) and Peter Arata (Bellevue, Wash./Northeastern University) used a strong second-half push to overtake Italy to win the gold medal. Italy blasted off the start, taking a length on the field in the first 500 meters. However, the U.S. crew started to chip away at the lead over the second quarter of the race, closing the gap to a half-length going into the last 1,000 meters. The Americans pulled ahead going into the final 500 meters as the Italians faltered. New Zealand passed Italy in the final stretch as well, taking the silver.

“We knew that everyone was going to be quick out of the box, and our goal was to minimize any kind of jumping out at the start by any other crews,” Connell said. “I thought we did an alright job with that. Italy jumped out to about a length lead, maybe a bit more with a touch of open water, but all five of us knew to trust in our base rhythm and that our middle 1,000 was the fastest in the world. We knew to trust that rhythm, and it came through for us.”

The U.S. won gold in a 6:22.32, with New Zealand finishing in a 6:24.25 and Italy in a 6:25.26. The win was the first for the men’s four with coxswain in U.S. U23 history.

“It’s an awesome experience,” Connell said. “Four of the five of us are making world-stage debuts here, only Alex had been at juniors. It’s an incredible experience for us just to be here and to win a gold medal is just surreal.”

Racing in the first ever lightweight women’s pair final at the U23 championships, Caroline O’Brien (Darien, Conn./Georgetown University) and Sarah Maietta (Wayland, Mass./Boston University) dominated the event, winning by more than nine seconds to take home the gold medal. O’Brien and Maietta led off the start and continue to move away from Germany as the crews hit the halfway point.

“After our time trial, we were really excited because we figured out we had a really good base rhythm and our plan was to work the base on our final race,” O’Brien said. “It really showed that even If we didn’t have an amazing start, we were able to come back and just work through it and stay internal for the rest of the race and get ahead.”

Over the second 1,000 meters, the American duo kept extending its lead, finishing with a time of 7:43.62. Germany won the silver medal in a 7:53.95, followed by Italy.

“We sweep all year long in college, and we know how strong U.S. women’s sweep is,” Maietta said. “We knew we had a good chance in this event. I told her from the get-go, ‘let’s go out here and try to win it,’ and we approached every race like that.”

Alina Hagstrom (Seattle, Wash./Oregon State University) and Regina Salmons (Methuen, Mass./University of Pennsylvania) brought home the gold medal in the women’s pair to give the U.S. its fourth gold of the day. The duo, which came from behind in the final 500 meters to win their semifinal, made its push to gain control of the race in the second 500 meters on Saturday. The defending U23 world champions from Chile held the early lead before Australia moved into the top position 700 meters into the race. However, Hagstrom and Salmons rowed through the Australians to take a half-length lead at the midway point.

“I think the start was a little rough,” Hagstrom said. “We had a lot of adrenaline going for us. I think we were really quick to get cool, calm and collected and just say, ‘this is our race, make it ours.’ Even if we were starting behind, I think both of our mentalities were, ‘yes, we can.’ It was a very positive race for both of us.”

The Americans continued to build on their lead the rest of the way down the course, winning with a time of 7:31.24. Great Britain won silver in a 7:33.68, with Chile holding on for the bronze. For Salmons, it was her third U23 gold medal, having won the four and eight in 2016.

“Rowing with Alina is the best,” Salmons said. “In a pair, it’s such a partnership, 50-50. It’s really cool. You have to be working with one other person rather than being in a big boat. Being in a pair is really special, especially when you have that awesome pair partner.”

The lightweight men’s quadruple sculls crew of Chase Deitner (Perth, Australia/University of Washington), Jimmy Francis (St. Louis, Mo./Oklahoma City University), Danny Madden (New Rochelle, N.Y./Manhattan College) and Sam Melvin (Costa Mesa, Calif./Orange Coast College) won the bronze medal, behind Italy and Ireland. Spain took the lead off the line before Italy, Ireland and the U.S. surged into the three medal positions during the second 500 meters. The three crews, along with Denmark, battled each other over the final half of the race, with the Italians holding less than a boat length lead first on the American crew and then on the Irish boat. At the line, Italy finished with a time of 6:10.13, 1.32 seconds ahead of Ireland. The U.S. finished 1.1 second back in a 6:12.55.

“We knew we were going to be down at the start,” Melvin said. “Really, our strategy, was to try to neutralize that margin in the middle of the race. Overall, it went pretty well. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but it was a real good race.”

Luke Smith (Tampa, Fla./Colgate University) and Alexandar Damjanovic (Alexandria, Va./Colgate University) finished sixth in the final of the lightweight men’s pair, crossing the line in a 7:05.27. The duo sat in fourth place going into the last 500 meters, but dropped to sixth in the final sprint. Ireland won the gold medal in a 6:54.48, followed by Greece and Italy for silver and bronze.

In the final of the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls, Olivia Farrar (Pittsford, N.Y./Harvard University), Janice Hagerman (Boxford, Mass./Boston University), Liz Ray (Miami, Fla./Columbia University) and Grace Joyce (Northfield, Ill./University of Wisconsin) finished sixth, with a time of 7:12.07. The crew got off the line in fifth place and was never able to challenge for a medal position. Italy won the gold medal in a 6:54.85, leading from start to finish. The Netherlands brought home the silver medal, with France taking bronze.

The women’s quadruple sculls crew of Claire Campbell (New Canaan, Conn./Dartmouth University), Isabella Strickler (Grosse Pointe, Mich./University of Virginia), Megan Hinkle (Troy, Ohio/University of Michigan) and Arianna Lee (Folsom, Calif./Syracuse University) also finished sixth. Romania won the gold in a 6:40.97, ahead of The Netherlands in second and Great Britain in third. The U.S. finished with a time of 7:02.94.

Earlier in the day, three U.S. crews advanced to Sunday’s finals through the semifinals.

Ben Davison (Inverness, Fla./University of Washington) sprinted through Ireland’s Ronan Byrne as the scullers passed the 1,500-meter mark to win the second semifinal of the men’s single sculls. Germany’s Marc Weber took the lead off the start before Byrne picked up his rate to move into first as the boats approached the midway point. The three scullers were within one second of each other at the 1,000-meter mark. That’s when Byrne and Davison pulled away from Weber to make it a two-boat race. Davison then upped his rate, moving through Byrne just after the 1,500-meter mark, to earn the victory. Davison finished with a time of 7:14.65, with Byrne finishing in a 7:17.88. Weber also qualified for Sunday’s final.

In the first semifinal, Canada’s Trevor Jones, the defending U23 world champion, controlled his race to win in a 7:16.07. Bulgaria’s Boris Yotov and Brazil’s Lucas Ferreira took the other two qualifying spots.

Emily Kallfelz (Jamestown, R.I./ Princeton University) dominated the second semifinal of the women’s single sculls, winning by more than six seconds. The defending U23 bronze medalist held an open-water advantage by the halfway point and continued to pull away from Great Britain’s Ruth Siddorn over the final 1,000 meters. Latvia’s Jelisaveta Simaceva finished third to also qualify for Sunday’s final. Kallfelz finished with a time of 8:05.97.

New Zealand’s Samantha Voss won a tight race with Norway’s Thea Helseth in the other semifinal, crossing the finish in an 8:03.95. Both advanced to the final, along with Bulgaria’s Desislave Georgieva.

The men’s four of Alexander Wallis (Cupertino, Calif./University of California, Berkeley), Andrew Knoll (Greenback, Tenn./United States Naval Academy), Hunter Hodges (Seattle, Wash./University of California, Berkeley) and Eli Maesner (Redmond, Wash./University of Washington) finished third in its semifinal to advance to Sunday’s final. Romania set the pace early, with the U.S. in second and New Zealand in third. The Romanians continued to build on their advantage through the middle 1,000 meters, as New Zealand began to pull ahead of the American crew. As the crews reached the finish line, Romania held on for a 0.95-second victory over New Zealand. Romania finished with a time of 6:06.75. The U.S. finished third in a 6:12.63. The three crews will be joined by Great Britain, Germany and Italy in the final. Great Britain edged out Germany by 0.66 to win the second semifinal in a 6:10.22.

Brigid Kennedy (East Greenwich, R.I./Harvard University), a three-time U23 National Team member, will race in Sunday’s B final for places 7-12 after finishing fifth in her semifinal. With the top three advancing to the final, Germany and Switzerland led the field off the start and traded the top position the entire way down the course. Italy settled into the third spot, with the remaining scullers dropping off the pace. Kennedy finished with a time of 8:32.81. Germany’s Vera Spanke crossed the line in first in an 8:17.53, with Switzerland’s Sofia Meakin finishing less than a half-second behind. Italy’s Clara Guerra took the third spot. Kennedy will race scullers from the Czech Republic, Uruguay, Greece, Romania and China in tomorrow’s B final.

The U.S. also had seven crews racing in C and D finals on Saturday.

Isabella Garcia-Camargo (Seattle, Wash./Stanford University) and Sophia Denison-Johnston (Berkeley, Calif./University of California, Los Angeles) won the C final of the lightweight women’s double sculls, finishing 13th overall. Chile got off the line in first place, but the U.S. quickly took the lead during the second 500 meters. The duo continued to pull away from Chile over the back half of the race, finishing with a time of 7:48.31.

The men’s pair of Aidan Bridwell (Redding, Conn./Northeastern University) and Louis Pratt (Arlington, Mass./Northeastern University) finished third in the C final for a 15th-place finish overall. Ukraine pulled away from the field in the second half of the race, finishing in a 7:04.62. Hungary finished second in a 7:10.81, with the U.S. less than a second behind. Bridwell and Pratt finished in a 7:11.61.

In the C final of the men’s double sculls, Evan Dwinell (Tallahassee, Fla./Dartmouth College) and Joshua Bilchik (Brookline, Mass./Bates College) finished fifth, placing 17th overall. Romania won the race in a 6:55.39. The U.S. clocked a 7:13.65.

The men’s quadruple sculls crew of Alexandr Lilichenko (Orinda, Calif./University of California, Berkeley), Jacob Plihal (Vashon Island, Wash./Northeastern University), Jesse Maritz (Stanwood, Wash./Oregon State University) and Baxter Call (Vashon Island, Wash./Oregon State University) finished sixth in the C final for an 18th-place finish overall. Canada won in a 6:17.17, more than four seconds ahead of second-place Denmark. The U.S. clocked a 6:37.15.

In the lightweight men’s single sculls, Zachary Heese (Pelham, N.Y./University of Virginia) won the D final for a 19th-place finish overall. Ireland’s Hugh Sutton led off the line before Heese moved ahead in the second 500 meters. Heese continued to build his lead through the base of the race before holding off a late move by Sutton. Heese crossed in a 7:27.91, 0.40 seconds ahead of Sutton.

The women’s double sculls crew of Ashley Johnson (Buffalo, N.Y./Syracuse University) and Sydney Michalak (Peterborough, N.H./Syracuse University) easily won the D final for a 19th-place finish overall. The duo took command from the start, building a five-second lead in the first 500. Johnson and Michalak continued to build their advantage the rest of the way down the course, finishing more than 14 seconds ahead of Estonia in a 7:40.54.

In the D final of the lightweight men’s double sculls, Artym Hayda (Providence, R.I./Georgetown University) and Thomas Satterthwaite (Cranston, R.I./Harvard University) passed Tunisia in the final 150 meters to earn the victory and a 19th-place finish overall. After getting off the line in third, the U.S. passed Azerbaijan and settled into second place, just off the pace set by Tunisia. As the crews came into the final 500 meters, Hayda and Satterthwaite began to chip away at Tunisia’s lead before using a final sprint to win by less than one second. The U.S. finished in a 7:06.33.

In addition to those who advanced today, the U.S. will have the men’s and women’s eights racing for medals and the women’s four racing in the B final on Sunday.

The men’s eight of coxswain Rielly Milne (Woodinville, Wash./University of Washington), Andrew Gaard (Madison, Wis./University of Washington), Michael Grady (Pittsburgh. Pa./Cornell University), Sam Halbert (Redmond, Wash./University of Washington), Madison Molitor (Moses Lake, Wash./University of Washington), Arne Landboe (Shoreline, Wash./University of Washington), Chris Carlson (Bedford, N.H./University of Washington), Justin Best (Kennett Square Pa./Drexel University), and Brennan Wertz (Mill Valley, Calif./ Stanford University) earned a spot in Sunday’s final by virtue of a victory in its heat. The crew will take on The Netherlands, Romania, Great Britain, Canada and Germany in the race for medals. The Netherlands enters as the other heat winner.

The women’s eight of coxswain Leigh Warner (Portland, Ore./Stanford University), Brooke Pierson (Alexandria, Va./University of Washington), Elise Beuke (Sequim, Wash./University of Washington), Marlee Blue (Seattle, Wash./University of Washington), Alison Rusher (West Bend, Wis./Stanford University), Liliane Lindsay (Harrison, N.Y./Yale University), Claire Collins (McLean, Va./Princeton University), Kaitlyn Kynast (Ridgefield, Conn./Stanford University) and Hadley Irwin (Washington, D.C./Princeton University) earned a spot in Sunday’s final thanks to a second-place finish in its heat. The Americans will race against heat winners Canada and Great Britain, as well as The Netherlands, Germany and Australia.

The women’s four of Meghan Gutknecht (Guilderland, N.Y./University of Michigan), Teresa Rokos (Pasadena, Calif./Harvard University), Niamh Martin (Seattle, Wash./University of Wisconsin) and Chase Shepley (Crystal Lake, Ill./Stanford University) finished fourth in its repechage and now will race in the B final for places 7-11. The four will take on Germany, Greece, Denmark and Italy on Sunday.

World Rowing’s live video streaming and VOD will be available via USRowing’s Facebook page. Video streaming starts 10 minutes prior to racing each day and will cover all races from Wednesday through Sunday.

Complete press coverage, athlete bios and links to event information are available at www.usrowing.org and www.worldrowing.com. Follow along with the U.S. Under 23 National Team as it prepares for the 2018 World Rowing Under 23 Championships by using the hashtag #WRU23Champs.

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