Kohler, Knippen Earn Spots on National Team at 2019 Senior National Team Trials I

SARASOTA, Fla. – USRowing Training Center-Princeton’s Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif.) and Seattle Rowing Center’s Michael Knippen (Germantown, Wis.) won the women’s and men’s single sculls events, respectively, on Sunday at the 2019 Senior National Team Trials I/Spring Speed Order I at Nathan Benderson Park, becoming the first athletes to claim spots on the 2019 Senior National Team.

Kohler and Knippen earned the right to represent the U.S. at the 2019 World Rowing Championships this August in Austria.

“It’s a great feeling (to win the single),” Knippen said. “This one feels real earned. I’ve been training in the single now for a year and a half. It’s had its ups and downs, but this is really validation that the work I’ve been doing is along the right path. (I’m) finding speed and having a lot of fun with it.”

In the women’s single sculls, Kohler, who finished fourth in the event at the 2018 World Rowing Championships, clocked a 7:46.02 to defeat Cambridge Boat Club’s Genevra Stone (Newton, Mass.) by more than seven seconds. Stone, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the event, crossed the finish line in a 7:53.67. Cambridge’s Cicely Madden (Weston, Mass.) finished third in a 7:59.03, with Craftsbury Sculling Center’s Michalina Fili (Sparks, Md.) taking fourth in an 8:06.97.

“Luckily, we had the best conditions today, so that was a treat for the final,” Kohler said. “Going into the final, I was terribly nervous, so dealing with that was a challenge. But, I knew that I had put in the work and had had a really consistent string of training and that if I went out there and gave it my best, it could turn out really well. I just wanted to get out as much as I could in the first half.”

Kohler is coming off a successful first season in the single, where she finished fourth at both the world championships and the 2018 World Rowing Cup race in Lucerne. She said her approach this summer will be similar to last year.

“I’m getting more comfortable in the single the longer I’m in it,” Kohler said. “I’ve had really consistent training, so I hope to continue that. I’m training with a really positive group of women at the training center, and I have Laurel (Korholz) as a coach. She’s a badass. Everyone loves Laurel, so nothing will be that different. I’m just going to be more focused day-to-day, show up and race.”

In the men’s single sculls, Knippen crossed the line in a 7:12.81, finishing nearly eight seconds ahead of Penn Athletic Club’s Gregory Ansolabehere (Bakersfield, Calif.), who finished in a 7:20.70. Knippen and Ansolabehere were boatmates in the men’s quadruple sculls at the 2018 World Rowing Championships. Craftsbury Sculling Center’s Kevin Meador (Berkeley, Calif.), who represented the U.S. in the event at last year’s world championships, finished third in a 7:22.79, followed by Keble College Boat Club’s Matthew O’Leary (Westwood, Mass.) in a 7:23.54.

“Yesterday, O’Leary jumped off the line pretty quickly,” Knippen said. “I knew coming into today that that was likely going to be the case again. The game plan was to jump quickly off the line. I did that well, kept it clean.”

All four finalists at the trials in both the men’s and women’s single sculls qualified for the second leg of this year’s U.S. Lotman Challenge®. Now in its third year, the Challenge will feature three different race distances over the course of 2019. Champions will be crowned at the U.S. Lotman Challenge Final on October 26 at Cooper River Park in Camden, N.J.

Leg one of the challenge is comprised of three separate USRowing regattas, including this week’s trials, to select the top seven male and female open weight single scullers that will move on to leg two at the Head of the Charles. For more information on the U.S. Lotman Challenge, click here.

While national team spots were on the line in the men’s and women’s single sculls, this week’s speed order races in the lightweight events were a chance for athletes to test their speed in preparation for future national team trials events.

Vesper Boat Club’s Jasper Liu (Phoenix, Ariz.) won the lightweight men’s single sculls by just under three seconds. Liu clocked a 7:30.87, with New York Athletic Club’s Daniel Madden (New Rochelle, N.Y.) finishing second in a 7:33.58. Potomac Boat Club’s Peter Schmidt (Providence, R.I.) finished third, followed by Hugh McAdam (Hollis, N.H.)

In the lightweight women’s single sculls, Vesper Boat Club’s Michelle Sechser (Folsom, Calif.), who finished fourth in the event at the 2018 World Rowing Championships, edged out Hydrow’s Christine Cavallo (Windermere, Fla.) to win the final. Sechser held off Cavallo, clocking an 8:03.28 to win by 1.52 seconds. Sarasota Rowing Club’s Rosa Kemp (Putnam Valley, N.Y.) finished third in an 8:10.11, followed by Sarasota teammate Jessica Hyne-Dolan in an 8:12.50.

For a complete results, click here. Click here for the photo gallery from this week’s racing.

The 2019 World Rowing Championships will be held August 25-September 1 in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. This year’s world championships serve as the initial country qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games.

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