Men’s Eight Golden as U.S. Totals Eight Medals at World Rowing Under 23 Championships
By USRowing Staff • July 29, 2018
The United States ended its 2018 World Rowing Under 23 Championships on Sunday in the same place it began the finals on Saturday – atop the medal stand – as the men’s eight brought home the gold medal ahead of Great Britain in the final event of the regatta.
After opening yesterday’s finals with three consecutive golds, the eight’s victory gave the U.S. its fifth gold and eighth overall medal of the event, setting U.S. records for both the most gold and overall medals at a World Rowing Under 23 Championships. The five gold medals also put the U.S. on top of World Rowing’s gold medal standings ahead of Italy and Great Britain with three each. In the overall medal count, the U.S. tied the Brits with eight total medals, only behind Italy’s 12.
In the men’s eight final, the boat 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) took the lead just as the crews approached the 500-meter mark and then used a strong middle 1,000 to open up an eight-seat lead on the field entering the final quarter of the race.
“It was really fantastic conditions at the start,” Milne said. “We were maybe two seats down for a while until we started to get a rhythm going and then we started taking the momentum. We did our most work (in the second 500). By the third and last 500, the water started getting choppy, and it was hard to pick up that momentum again, so we really just had to ride it out.”
In the sprint, the U.S. was able to keep its margin on Great Britain and Romania. The U.S. finished with a time of 5:22.48 to win the gold. Great Britain and Romania clocked identical times of 5:24.93, with the British crew claiming silver by less than a hundredth of a second.
“It’s fantastic,” said Milne of winning gold. “This is my fourth year on the under 23 team, my last one. I knew great things were going to happen as soon as I saw that selection camp was in Seattle, and I saw the list names and experienced guys. This summer’s been fantastic.”
After winning a bronze medal at last year’s U23 championships in the women’s single sculls, Emily Kallfelz (Jamestown, R.I./ Princeton University) moved up one spot in 2018, winning the silver medal. Kallfelz took the lead in the first 500 meters and continued to lead as the scullers came into the final quarter of the race. However, Kallfelz had difficulty with some chop in the final 500 meters and New Zealand’s Samantha Voss was able to take advantage. Voss crossed the line in first, winning gold in a 7:28.34. Kallfelz finished with a time of 7:31.60 to take silver, while Bulgaria’s Desislava Georgieva won the bronze medal in a 7:36.17. Kallfelz’s finish was the best ever for a U.S. women’s single at the U23 championships.
“My starts are typically not so good, so I was trying to make sure I stayed in the pack at the start and then build throughout the middle of the race,” Kallfelz said. “It got bumpy, and I struggled a lot with the bumps. That’s where she got me. I took a few diggers, and I couldn’t get the rate back up. It’s a good learning experience.”
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) held off a hard-charging British crew to win the bronze medal.
The. U.S. got off the line well, taking an early lead, and still held a foot advantage over Canada as the crews entered the second half of the race. But, the Canadian crew was already moving and built more than a half-length lead with 500 meters to go. Canada continued to hold its advantage as The Netherlands rowed passed the Americans. A late move by Great Britain wasn’t enough, as the U.S. held on for bronze.
“We knew we had to get out early, because in a tailwind, you want to get out and stay out,” said Warner. “Hats off to everybody else for a great second half of the race. I thought we did our first 1,000 really gutsy. We did the best we could, and I’m really proud of our crew.”
Canada won with a time of 6:04.61, with The Netherlands finishing less than two seconds behind in a 6:06.58. The U.S. finished in a 6:08.04, 0.19 seconds ahead of Great Britain.
“It’s never going to be easy at the world level,” Warner said. “Our coach told us that at the world level, one inch is a blessing. It’s not like collegiate (rowing) where it can be a half-boat length. We knew we had to be ready to have it be that tight, so bronze is amazing. That was an epic sprint that GB put down.”
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 fourth in the final, just off the medal stand. Romania controlled the race off the start, with Great Britain sitting in second and the U.S. in third. The three crews continued to lead the field at the halfway point, with Romania holding nearly a three-second lead over Great Britain. With 500 meters to go, New Zealand began to pull ahead of the U.S. and continued its chase of Great Britain.
At the line, Romania earned the gold medal in a 5:50.61, with Great Britain holding on to the silver medal over New Zealand by 0.07 seconds in a time of 5:52.74. The U.S. crossed in a 5:54.91.
In the men’s single sculls, Ben Davison (Inverness, Fla./University of Washington) was unable to hold off Bulgaria’s Boris Yotov during the final 300 meters, dropping to fourth. Canada’s Trevor Jones repeated as U23 champion in the event, with Germany’s Marc Weber winning the silver medal. Jones led Weber and Davison at the 500-meter mark before the American inched ahead of the German at the halfway point. As Jones began to build his lead, Weber regained the advantage over Davison going into the final 750 meters. Davison continued to row in third into the last quarter of the race but could not hold off Yotov during the sprint. Jones won the race in a 6:48.70. Davison finished in a time of 6:55.25. The fourth-place finish was the best ever in the event for the U.S.
Brigid Kennedy (East Greenwich, R.I./Harvard University) used a strong second half of the race to finish fourth in the B final of the lightweight women’s single sculls, finishing 10th overall. Kennedy got off the line in fifth and began closing the gap during the second quarter of the race. Kennedy passed China in the third 500 before setting her sights on the top three scullers. At the line, she came up 0.13 seconds short of Romania for third. The Czech Republic’s Kristyna Neuhortova won the race in a 7:46.69. Kennedy clocked a 7:51.72.
In the B final of the women’s four, 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 for a 10th-place finish overall. Denmark won the race in a 6:33.96, with the U.S. clocking a 6:47.73.