By: Peter Schmidt
It was a momentous three days of racing at Senior Trials I for the men’s and women’s high performance group. Four Riverside entries competed over three events: the lightweight women’s and men’s single and the lightweight quad.
Racing began Monday morning with the lightweight single. First to race were Joan Buck and Laurissa Gulich. With the top two finishers progressing to the semifinals and the rest going to repechage in the afternoon, the pressure was on to only race once that day. Joan was first to race and placed second in her heat with 8:22.59, 7 seconds behind Nicole Dinion of OKC Riversports who won the heat with 8:15.81. Both progressed to the semifinals on Tuesday morning. Laurissa Gulich placed 3rd in Heat 2 requiring her to race again that afternoon in order to progress. She then won her rep with a time of 8:26.5 advancing her to the semifinal.
Tobin McGee was next to race in the men’s lightweight single. With the top finisher from each heat going to the final and the rest going to reps the following morning Tobin had his work cut out for him, especially having Andrew Campbell in his heat. Tobin finished 3rd with a time of 7:31.7, behind Peter Alter from Vesper and Andrew Campbell, who won the heat with a time of 7:03.6.
Tuesday was a tough day of racing for the Riverside lightweight singles. Laurissa and Joan were first to race and needed to place second or better in their semifinals in order to advance to the final. Unfortunately both were knocked out of the competition. Tobin was next to race that morning and faced the tougher task of winning his rep in order to gain a spot in the four-boat final the next morning. With a stiff crosswind on the course, Tobin jumped off the line and settled into a solid rhythm. Keeping his line straight down the course he set his sights on chasing down Colin Ethridge of Malta. Tobin took a move at the third 500 shortening the gap and began his sprint with 300 meters to go. Unfortunately Tobin ran out of race course and finished 2 seconds behind Colin. Both scullers are entered to race at Elite Nationals following the conclusion of Trials. Hopefully there will be a rematch in the near future.
On the final day of Trials the only boat left to race was the men’s lightweight quad (Kyle Lafferty, Jake Georgeson, Peter Schmidt, Bow: Andrew Neils). With USRowing altering the selection procedure and no race to determine lanes the previous Monday morning the quad needed to row only one piece to earn their seats on the national team. Despite several jittery rows in the days leading up to the final, when the quad shoved away from the dock all jitters and nerves were gone. All eyes were set on the goal in front of them. Even after receiving a warning for arriving late to the line the quad remained calm and when the race started any remaining nerves were instantly forgotten, replaced with that familiar burning sensation in the legs that only a 2k can produce.
Malta was quick off the line and held with the Riverside/GRP quad through the first 250 but RBC quickly jumped out to a length lead 500m into the race. At 750m in, RBC took their first move and broke open water on the Malta quad. Their lead continued as the race progressed and coming into the last 500, Riverside had over a length of open water. Victory was clear as Riverside crossed the line with a time of 6:08.68 seconds, 6 seconds ahead of the Malta quad. After talking as a boat for roughly 2 seconds, they agreed to declare their intent to go to Worlds and proceeded to the dock to weigh the boat, submit to a drug test and fill out the necessary paperwork
Their lead continued as the race progressed and coming into the last 500, Riverside had over a length of open water.
All in all it was a solid three days of racing for Riverside’s high performance group ending with great results and new resolve to continue pursuing that faster time.