This past weekend, three junior athletes from the Burton Beach Rowing Club competed against the best of the best at USRowing’s Youth National Championships in Sarasota, Florida. Ultimately finishing with mixed emotions and results after four days of fierce competition, the year-and-a-half old club is home to two national top-18 crews.
The veteran pair of Kate Kelly and Gabbie Graves, who comprised the club’s only entry at last year’s nationals, were joined this year by senior Mabel Moses. A lightweight, Moses earned her trip to Nathan Benderson Park — host of this year’s U23 World Championships as well — with a third place in the women’s open single at at Northwest Regionals three weeks ago. While there is a lightweight single event at Regionals, which Moses won last year, there is no lightweight category for the single at Nationals.
While Kelly and Graves, who placed 12th overall a year ago in the women’s pair, struggled to find both speed and synch this time around, Moses was at the top of her game.
In a new racing format USRowing instituted two years ago, all events begin with a time trial — the top nine finishers qualifying directly for semis, the rest must race an extra time in the “reps” to determine the final crews heading to semis, the remainder going to C or D finals, depending on how many total entries there are in the event. Last Thursday, in the second race on the water, Moses, who was “easily the smallest girl in the field,” according to coach Richard Parr, set the crowd abuzz with an eighth-place finish in her time trial. The effort earned her a spot in the semis, guaranteeing a top-12 overall finish.
“Mabel was just awesome,” Parr said of the soon-to-fledge Moses.
Kelly and Graves, finishing second-to-last in their time trial, had a tough task ahead of them as the number of crews in the event meant that they had to win their repechage heat in order to move on to the semis. Their second place sent them to the C final on Sunday, where they finished fifth, and 17th overall.
Parr said that while the two had come into Nationals hoping to improve their place from last year, he was happy to see the experienced crew “fight for it” in their rep race.
“They found some fire there,” he added.
Both Kelly and Graves are headed to USRowing’s U19 National Team selection camp in New London, Connecticut, on Wednesday. Graves’ stint in selection camp last summer earned her a spot in the U.S. junior women’s eight, and a silver medal, at last year’s Junior World Championships.
Moses ended her junior rowing career with a fifth place in the B-final on Sunday, landing the mighy lightweight 11th overall. Parr called her performance “Outstanding, and really brave.”
As Kelly and Graves head back to the East Coast later this week, Moses will graduate from VHS this Saturday and will attend the University of British Columbia in Vancouver this fall to study commerce and row for the UBC Thunderbirds.