In past years, it’s been a bittersweet badge of honor. Most of the past 15 or so years have seen the Vashon Island Rowing Club (VIRC) send senior rowers to the Youth National Championships on the same weekend as high school graduation, costing them the privilege of walking across the Vashon High School stage to accept their diplomas with their friends.
The timing has been more fortuitous in recent years, allowing VIRC’s 2019 seniors Tor Ormseth and Rohin Petram to not only compete at Nationals last weekend in Florida, but also to walk the stage at graduation ceremonies back home on the island the following weekend.
Rowing against the nation’s best junior athletes at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida, June 6 through 9, Ormseth and Petram pushed through a heat index that topped 100 degrees to finish fifth in the final race of their VIRC rowing careers. Coming in the C Final, the result slotted Ormseth and Petram at 17th overall in the nation.
“Over the past five years, Tor and I have experienced a lot of racing against some seriously fast crews,” said Petram. “This weekend we faced some of the toughest competition that we have ever had to go up against.”
“I think that both of us are proud of where we ended up,” said Ormseth, “and the races we had were a great way to finish up our high school rowing careers.”
Boats must finish in the top three in their qualifying regatta in order to even earn an invite to Youth Nationals, so the field that travelled to Sarasota represented the best crews in the country. After a time trial on Thursday, Ormseth and Petram rowed a personal best of 6:55 in the repechage round on Friday, setting up their final race on Saturday.
“In the last year and a half, I have gotten to watch Tor and Rohin grow into respectful young men,” said VIRC coach Ben Steele. “Their actions as leaders have not only shaped themselves, but have been a guiding force for our younger members.”
After graduation, Petram will attend and row for the University of Washington this fall. His rowing partner Ormseth will attend and row for Oregon State, setting up many opportunities for the good friends to line up on the starting line against each other at Pac-12 regattas throughout their college careers.
“They have been an intricate part of establishing our team culture at VIRC, which thrives on being a devoted family,” said Steele. “It was a pleasure to be their coach, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish both on and and off the water.”
— Written by Jeff Hoyt, a VIRC masters rower.