Burton Beach Rowing Club (BBRC) sent 14 rowers south to Vancouver, Washington, for US Rowing’s Northwest Youth Championships, which took place May 20 through 22.
The event gives rowers the chance to prove themselves against more than 1500 of the best rowers, from two dozen clubs across Washington and Oregon — and for a select few, the opportunity to advance to nationals.
BBRC’s rowers won the overall gold in the novice girls’ coxed quad on Saturday with a time of 7:56 on the 2-kilometer course. The boat was rowed by Sasha Thompson, Taylor Huffman, Haley Hopper, and Ella Odegard,with Caroline Barnes as the coxswain. The team won their heat by nearly five seconds, and then watched from the shore to see if their time would hold up for the overall title — which it did.
Less than 30 minutes later, BBRC made it back-to-back gold medals when the novice boys’ coxed quad of Zack Merrigan, Nate Wass de Czege, Forest Macnab, Grant Gonter, with Brisa Ordonez-Ramirez as the coxswain.
“What a great way for our novice quads to finish the season — they have worked so hard to get to this point,” said BBRC coach, Richard Parr. “It’s exciting for our rowers and a special shout out to our two coxswains. They have both been amazing all year and Brisa delivered, in this, her first-ever race. What an introduction to the sport.”
After rowing in the novice quad, Gonter partnered with veteran Dylan Carmody to take silver in the boys’ third varsity double. For Carmody, one of the founding members of the BBRC, it was his final race with the club. The VHS senior will be rowing for Jacksonville University starting in the fall.
“Seeing Dylan medal in his final race for BBRC was a great way to end his year with the club. He’s a good rower, an even better person, and the best teammate,” said Parr.
On Sunday, the rowers returned for day three of the event, with a trip to US Rowing’s national championships in Sarasota, Florida, on the line.
The first BBRC boat to punch its ticket to Florida was BBRC’s U17 girls’ quad, consisting of Keziah Rutschow, and novices Thompson, Huffman, and Odegard. The quad finished second, to Oregon Unlimited, and they held off a late charge from the bronze medalists from Seattle Prep.
In the afternoon, the U17 boys’ double, consisting of Macnab and Wass de Czege, took the bronze medal in a hard-fought race. The double found themselves in fifth place with 300 meters to go. They turned it on in the final stretch, finishing the race strong and moving into third place ahead of Oregon Unlimited. The race was won by South Eugene in a photo finish over the second-place Pocock double.
The club took home the points trophy for the best small club in the Northwest. This award goes to clubs with less than 15 rowers in the competition.
“It was a successful weekend for our rowers both on and off the water,” said Parr. “To win the points trophy when twelve of our fourteen rowers this weekend are in their first year – that is a good feeling for everyone.”