They knew they were good. But just how good?
The Bainbridge Island Rowing Lightweight Youth 4+ crew team claimed its rightful place among the best of the best with a second-place finish at the U.S. Rowing’s Youth National Championships Sunday in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The Bainbridge team won silver medals to take the No. 2 title.
“I’m a happy camper these days,” said Bainbridge Coach Bruce Beall. “I’m still sort of in shock.”
The 4+ crew — Nick Entress, Alex Derry, Keegan Dymoke, Thomas Musselwhite and coxswain Timmy Taylor — came back after an opening heat loss to take first in the semifinal.
Then, in the final on Sunday, Bainbridge came just a few fleeting seconds from a national title during the finale on Melton Hill Lake.
Seattle Rowing Center claimed the crown in 6:41.63, while Bainbridge Island was second in 6:43.92. Long Beach Junior was third, and finished in 6:46.36.
Still, the second-place finish was more than the Bainbridge rowers could have imagined. The national championships, one of the country’s premier rowing races, attracted 369 crews from 153 clubs across 30 states.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was pretty crazy,” said Taylor, the coxswain for the Lightweight crew.
“We knew we were pretty good but we didn’t know just how good we were,” he said.
“It was a really really good feeling, easily one of the best moments I’ve had,” said Alex Derry, a second-year varsity rower who sits in the 2 seat.
“Just the feeling of having all that hard work through the season pay off, it’s really amazing,” Derry said.
Coach Beall agreed the big win brought a little bit of shock.
It’s one of those things; you think you can do it. Then when you finally do it, it’s a bit of ‘Wow,’” Beall said.
The Bainbridge Lightweight 4+ boat came in second during their first race; a Heat 2 matchup that featured Long Beach, Newport, Brookline and Atlanta Junior.
Long Beach claimed first in 6:18.63; Bainbridge was right behind in 6:20.70.
Bainbridge brushed off the second-place finish.
“We just had a pretty bad start,” Taylor said.
“We knew we could race better than we did in that first race,” Derry added.
“The team as a whole has a strong winning mentality, and we don’t let setbacks like that really affect us,” Derry said, adding that the Bainbridge team knew it could overpower Long Beach.
“We knew after that race that we could beat them; we just needed to race better,” he said.
Bainbridge did just that in the races to follow.
The Bainbridge boat straightened out any kinks and came out aggressively in the second day of rowing.
“We really went for it and it worked,” Derry said.
On Saturday, the team took first in their second race of the regatta, rowing to a 7:05.91 finish. OKC Riversport was second (7:13.23) and Tulsa was third (7:15.51).
In the semifinal, the Bainbridge 4+ boat rocketed to a first-place finish, beating Long Beach in the rematch by nearly 8 seconds.
Bainbridge Island finished at 6:56.84; Long Beach crossed at 7:04.09.
Pocock was third in 7:08.02; Newport claimed fourth in 7:12.13.
Taylor credited his teammates for their strong showing.
“They just killed themselves physically,” he said.
The 4+ crew is something special, Taylor added.
“We put other people in the boat and it just doesn’t work out. All four of those guys and the chemistry they have just works really well,” he said.
The team is lighter, too, than opposing boats.
“They’re not huge lightweights. I think our heaviest guy was 157 or 158,” Taylor said. “And so they’re a lot of teams out there just starving themselves to make weight.”
Add a bit of youth to the winning mix, as well. Everyone in the 4+ boat is a junior, which bodes well for next year.
“It certainly sets the bar pretty high for next year,” Derry said.
“It will be a tough challenge, but we’re certainly up for the challenge,” he said.
Though their huge triumph may have been a bit of a surprise, the Bainbridge rowers did get something of an omen before they left for Tennessee.
The team got a sign from above on their last day of rowing on Bainbridge Island, right before they packed up their boats for the trip to nationals.
“I went by this big feather in the water,” Coach Beall recalled.
An eagle feather, floating by in Eagle Harbor?
“I said, ‘There’s a message here.’”
The feather went with the team, and Beall fastened it to the front of the Lightweight 4 boat for luck before their races.
Of course, there was a bit more to their showing than good fortune.
“It’s not just us, it’s the whole team and especially the coaches and everyone else who was involved to make this happen,” Derry said.
“They deserve the success as much as we do,” he said.
The team qualified for nationals at the U.S. Rowing Northwest Junior District Championships.
Bainbridge Island Rowing’s Varsity Girls 8+ team also qualified for nationals — the only Pacific Northwest team to make it to the championships and the first Bainbridge Varsity 8 crew to ever advance.
The Varsity 8+ team is made up of Justeen Komok, Samantha Dore, Eryn McCassey, Hannah Schneiderman, Hanna Christoffersen, Elisabeth Chun, Katrina Kerrigan, Ena Nimb, coxswain Maia McNett, and Samantha Pelliciotta, alternate.
The Varsity 8+ crew started the regatta in an opening heat against Saugatuck, James Madison, Milwaukee and Mount Saint Joseph. Saugatuck and James Madison went one, two, in 6:18.07 and 6:20.23 respectively. Bainbridge Island was third in 6:31.24.
In the team’s next race on Saturday, Bainbridge finished fourth in 7:27.37 behind Connecticut (7:09.86); Green Lake (7:13.21); and Hingham (7:23.64).
In the final Sunday, Bainbridge Island finished sixth in 7:04.86. Hingham took first in 6:55.98.
The Bainbridge crew claimed 18th place overall.
U.S. Rowing’s Youth National Championships Results
Mens Lightweight Youth 4+ Heat 2
First: Long Beach Junior A (E. Schmitz) 6:18.63
Second: Bainbridge Island A (T. Musselwhite) 6:20.70
Third: Newport RC A (N. Malchione) 6:37.24
Fourth: Brookline A (A. Rintell) 6:43.35
Fifth: Atlanta Junior A (H. Kiefer) 7:05.67
Womens Youth 8+ Heat 3
First: Saugatuck A (F. Cain) 6:18.07
Second: James Madison A (G. Williams) 6:20.23
Third: Bainbridge Island A (J. Komok) 6:31.24
Fourth: Milwaukee A (K. O’Connor) 6:32.70
Fifth: Mount Saint Joseph A (S. Eble) 6:37.01
Mens Lightweight Youth 4+ Rep 2
First: Bainbridge Island A (T. Musselwhite) 7:05.91
Second: OKC Riversport A (J. Arlan) 7:13.23
Third: Tulsa A (J. Seely) 7:15.51
Fourth: The Haverford School A (C. Bickhart) 7:16.33
Womens Youth 8+ Rep 2
First: Connecticut A (J. Ferrante) 7:09.86
Second: Green Lake A (J. Griffith) 7:13.21
Third: Hingham A (E. Daniels) 7:23.64
Fourth: Bainbridge Island A (J. Komok) 7:27.37
Mens Lightweight Youth 4+ Semifinal 2
First: Bainbridge Island A (T. Musselwhite) 6:56.84
Second: Long Beach Junior A (E. Schmitz) 7:04.09
Third: Pocock A (A. DeMartine) 7:08.02
Fourth: Newport RC A (N. Malchione) 7:12.13
Fifth: South Jersey Rowing Club A (G. Waxman) 7:14.18
Sixth: Pittsford Crew A (F. Curran) 7:25.90
Mens Lightweight Youth 4+ A Final
First: Seattle Rowing Center A (C. Wales) 6:41.63
Second: Bainbridge Island A (T. Musselwhite) 6:43.92
Third: Long Beach Junior A (E. Schmitz) 6:46.36
Fourth: Marin Rowing Association A (R. Clyde) 6:46.59
Fifth: St. Louis A (P. Pappalardo) 6:57.97
Sixth: Pocock A (A. DeMartine) 7:07.15
Womens Youth 8+ C Final
First: Hingham A (E. Daniels) 6:55.98
Second: Los Gatos A (C. Mosher) 6:57.24
Third: Milwaukee A (K. O’Connor) 6:57.31
Fourth: Pocock A (A. Wetzel) 6:57.92
Fifth: New Trier A (A. Braunrot) 6:59.55
Sixth: Bainbridge Island A (J. Komok) 7:04.86