Gabrielle Graves, center, fifth from left, with her women’s eight crew mates on the podium for the silver medal at the World Rowing Junior (U-19) Championships in Racice, Czech Republic last Sunday. (Row2K photo/published with permission)

Gabrielle Graves, center, fifth from left, with her women’s eight crew mates on the podium for the silver medal at the World Rowing Junior (U-19) Championships in Racice, Czech Republic last Sunday. (Row2K photo/published with permission)

Mixed results for islanders at summer world championship events

This summer, the island has sent a number of its young residents to world-level competitions in both soccer and rowing. This week we update you on how Abi Kim, Baxter Call, Jacob Plihal and Gabrielle Graves have fared to date in their respective endeavors.

Abi Kim, FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup Soccer, France

Kim, the University of California, Berkeley, Bears’ striker, was a member of the U.S. team competing in the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup in France over the past two weeks. In group C with Spain, Japan and Paraguay, the American women ended up in third place in the group, which was not good enough to move on to the quarter finals.

The team’s final record from the group round was 1-1-1, after dominating Paraguay in a 6-0 match, dropping to Japan 0-1 and then fighting for a 2-2 draw with Spain in what ended up being its last game on Monday.

Kim, though not a starter in the competition, saw play time in each of the United States’ three games as a sub. The competition moves to the quarter final round beginning Thursday, Aug. 16.

Baxter Call and Jacob Plihal, World Rowing U-23 Championships, Poland

Call and Plihal traveled to Poznan, Poland, with their coach, Richard Parr and boatmates Alex Lilichenko and Jesse Maritz, to compete for the U.S. in the men’s quad at the World Rowing U-23 Championships at the end of July.

Unfortunately, the hopeful crew that spent the earlier weeks of this summer on the waters around Vashon just wasn’t able to find the speed — or confidence — it had in training and fell to the strong competition it faced from a large and fast field of 17 other boats. While all involved knew it was a hard ask for a trials boat in this event, last place was still a disappointment. The experience was not, however, without its merits.

“While the result wasn’t what we’d hoped for, it was a real privilege to work with these young men,” said Parr, who also coached Call and Plihal when the two were in high school. “We learned a lot of lessons, and we were a very fast club crew, but that just wasn’t enough against the best national teams from around the world.”

Gabrielle Graves, World Rowing Junior (U-19) Championships, Račice, Czech Republic

And in part two of this tale of two boats, the Burton Beach Rowing Club’s 15 year-old Gabrielle Graves, who was selected earlier this summer for a seat in the women’s eight to compete for the U.S. at the World Rowing Junior (U-19 ) Championships, is now a world silver medalist after a hard-fought race resulted in a second place for the crew this past weekend.

Fifty-seven countries and 750 of the best junior rowers in the world participated, and the U.S. team came home with two golds, four silvers and a bronze overall.

Competing against crews from Italy, Romania, Germany and the Czech Republic, Graves’ crew maintained fourth place until the midpoint of its final race when they moved into third and then challenged second. A late surge of fire and fury put the U.S. women solidly into second place, nearly catching the defending champions and home crew, the Czech Republic, for the gold. At the line they took silver, in a close race that saw just 5 seconds separating the top four boats.

“This was a well-deserved result for all the hard work that Gabbie has put in,” Parr, who also coaches Graves as a junior with the Burton Beach Rowing Club, said. “She put in a lot of time both mornings and afternoons throughout the winter and spring, and what we’re seeing is a result of her dedication.”

Graves’ mother, Heidi Tosterud, added that although being a member of the national team has meant being away from family and friends at home for the last two months, Graves has said the experience has been the best time of her life and she plans to continue working hard in order to earn her seat for the 2019 National team as well.

Graves returns to Vashon this week and to the Burton Beach Rowing Club for the fall season.

— Sarah Low is the wife of rowing coach Richard Parr and a Beachcomber reporter. Heidi Tosterud also contributed to this story.

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