Vashon rowers rake in the gold at American Lake regatta

Members of men’s quad, from left, Tate Gill, Jacob Plihal, Fletcher Call and Jack Mask, relax after their race.  - Christine Plihal Photo
Members of men’s quad, from left, Tate Gill, Jacob Plihal, Fletcher Call and Jack Mask, relax after their race.
— image credit: Christine Plihal Photo

For The Beachcomber

Ringed by beautiful homes dating to the founding of Weyerhauser Corporation, American Lake was also festooned with colorful maples on Sunday, and in sharp contrast to last fall’s regatta there, it provided a smooth rowing venue for Vashon’s crew team.

Probably due to the gale that swamped three of the first six eights last fall, leading to the cancellation of the entire regatta, Sunday’s event was lightly attended with a few more than 100 shells competing. Nonetheless, Vashon showed up in force, recording strong times on the 5,000-meter course and winning 14 of the 16 races entered.

Head races involve a staggered start, and boats are individually timed from start to finish, meaning that rowers don’t know exactly how they are doing against the competition and simply row their best the whole race.

Taking home two varsity gold medals each at the fall classic were Kalie Heffernan, Kirsten Girard, Baxter and Fletcher Call, Jack Mask and Mia Croonquist.  Heffernan, Girard and Croonquist were joined by TJ Ripley to win the junior women’s quad race; then Heffernan and Girard teamed up to win the junior women’s double race.

Fletcher Call and Mask (bow) joined Tate Gill (stroke) and Jacob Plihal to win the junior men’s quad with the fifth fastest time of the day (only eclipsed by the junior men’s varsity eight times). Baxter Call won the men’s open single event and then teamed with younger brother Fletcher to win the most competitive event of the day, the junior men’s double, which had seven entries. Mask joined Patrick Hanson, Charles Elliot, Forrest Miller and coxswain Olivia Mackie to win the junior men’s lightweight four.  Croonquist won the women’s open single event.

Other winning varsity boats were the junior women’s lightweight four with Emily Milbrath (stroke), Virginia Miller, Shannon Lipe, KaiLi Scheer and coxswain Callie Andrews and the junior women’s four with Halimah Griffin (stroke), Maya Krah, Bryn Gilbert, Taegan Lynch and cox Olivia Mackie.

Other gold medal boats were the junior men’s JV quad (Liam McConnell, stroke, Alexander Wright, Eli Sedgemore and Ben Zaglin, bow), the junior women’s novice eight (Riley Lynch, stroke, Te’a Schafer, Oakley Reid, Rhea Enzian, Katrina Heffernan, Lili Helsby, Tabitha Illerbrunn, Adriana Yarkin and coxswain Ally Clevenger), the junior women’s novice four (Lynch, stroke, Miller, Reid, Heffernan and Clevenger) and the women’s masters quad (Mary Rothermel, stroke, Marilyn Kleyn, Debby Jackson and Su Dewalt, bow).

Coach Richard Parr said he was grateful for the excellent rowing conditions and a chance for the team to show the results of its solid practices this fall season.

“We have a team of strong veteran rowers and many upcoming competitors who have pushed hard in practice,” he said. “It is great to see some good times leading into our final fall season regattas in Victoria, BC, and the Head of the Lake on Lake Washington over the next three weeks.”

— Pat Call is a recreational rower and father of two junior crew members.

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