LAKE NATOMA, CALIF. – Bainbridge Island High School rowers placed in the top ten at the US Rowing Junior National Championship held last weekend in California. The Boys 4+ and Lightweight Girls 8+ boats rowed to eighth and ninth places in the nation, respectively.
The Bainbridge boys boat also placed highest among all crews from the Pacific Northwest in their event.
More than 1,500 athletes from 133 teams across the country competed in the three-day regatta. Rowers raced over a 2,000-meter course on Lake Natoma, near Sacramento, in unpredictable and gusty conditions.
In the first qualifying heats on Friday, the girls secured an automatic place in the semifinals with a third place finish and went on to qualify for the B (or petite) final in the semifinals on Saturday. A smooth and strong race on Sunday placed them third in the petite final and ninth in the nation, just 3.5 seconds behind the first-place boat.
The “Mighty Lights” (stroke to bow) are Kate Hathaway, Jemma Blazina, Anneke Karreman, Samantha Dore, Elsa Godtfredsen, Sophia Townsend, Jessie Sheldon, Tica Drury, Emma Pazoff (alternate) and coxswain Sydney Gibbs.
The girls had the highest placing ever at Nationals for an 8 boat from Bainbridge, a particularly impressive feat given the young age of the crew (only one is a senior) and the fact that they are from a single high school. Most teams competing at Nationals draw from large metropolitan areas.
The boys open-weight 4 powered through to win their heat on Friday and went on to finish fourth in their semifinals, just missing a place in the grand final in a thrilling finish. Their solid second-place finish in the petite final on Sunday placed them eighth in the nation. The boys in the boat were Keegan Dymoke, Walker Hauptman, Alex Derry and Matthew Greenwood, with coxswain Keith Carlson.
Varsity Boys coach Bruce Beall said, “With 21 top crews from around the country, a top 10 placing is a feat, especially because the boys were among the smaller crews in their event.”
Three of the boys competed as lightweights last year and one of these was formerly a cox, hardly a typical open-weight crew but the combination clearly worked.
Among the team were five seniors who missed the graduation ceremony at Bainbridge High School to row at Nationals.
Instead, Alex Derry, Keegan Dymoke, Matthew Greenwood, Kate Hathaway and Walker Hauptman graduated in a small, private ceremony on Saturday evening, at which their coaches, families and fellow rowers contributed personal memories and messages for each of the graduates.