VIRC junior crew members Riley Lynch and Rhea Enzian (right) and Selena Mildon and Kate Kelly (left) row in the varsity women’s pair event at U.S. Rowing’s Northwest Junior Regional Championships at Vancouver Lake on Saturday. (Jordan Petram Photo)

Junior crew tops five events at Regional Champs, sending two to nationals

The Vashon Island Rowing Club’s junior crew got to finish one of its soggiest season’s in recent memory with some of the best weather, at arguably its most significant competition of the year — U.S. Rowing’s Northwest Junior Regional Championships in Vancouver, Washington. This annual event not only determines the top boats in the Northwest in each event, but also which boats will represent the region at Junior Nationals in June.

Vashon came away from the sunny, but competitive three-day regatta with five gold medals, four silver and two bronze. Two boats qualified to go to nationals.

Heading to Sarasota, Florida in June to represent the Northwest in the varsity women’s pair event are gold-medalists Riley Lynch and Rhea Enzian, and silver-medalists Selena Mildon and Kate Kelly. Vashon coach Richard Parr noted that Lynch and Enzian’s dominance this year caused at least one other club to avoid entering the event, according to that club’s coach, and it doesn’t look like Vashon’s stronghold on the women’s pair will ease up any time soon, as Emma Greenlee and Maya Gould also won a gold in the JV pair — the first ever JV version of the event.

Vashon’s other “best in the Northwest” boats were the novice women’s double (Ava Lorentzen and Gabbie Graves), the JV lightweight women’s four (Olivia White, Ruta Milewski, Tiffany Heustis, Sam Zeigler and coxed by the inimitable Hayden Rosen) and the high school women’s eight, all coming home with gold and bragging rights.

Along with Mildon and Kelly in the pair, silver medals came from the JV lightweight women’s double (Huestis and Milewski), the JV lightweight men’s double (Oz Hichens and Case Foster) and the men’s high school eight. Bronze medals went to the JV men’s quad and the novice women’s quad.

Parr added that one particular standout performance for the crew was not recognized with a medal.

“Our novice men’s quad (Malio Nelson, Brian DeLoach, Aziz Ugyur, Bowie Hichens and coxed by Lucca Shattuck) while physically smaller than nearly all of their competitors, made it to the final and came sixth overall out of 21 entries,” he said. “It was very tough competition in that event this year, and they gave it just an outstanding effort.”

“This has been a really successful season, with one of the overall youngest crews we’ve had in a while,” Parr said. “Winning five golds at Regionals and four at Brentwood, two of the biggest regattas on the West Coast, is significant.”

The junior crew now says good-bye to seven seniors: Katrina Heffernan, Emily Milbrath, Caprial Turner, Selena Mildon, Aria Mildon, Rhea Enzian and David Nguyen, who are all moving on to college in the fall. Heffernan and Milbrath are both headed to St. Mary’s College of California and will also both be rowing for the NCAA Division I school; Turner is headed to Temple University in Philadelphia, where she will row as well; Selena Mildon will attend, and row for, Marist College in New York; Aria Mildon will attend, and row for, Trinity College in Connecticut; Enzian is off to attend, and row for, the Ivy League at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; and Nguyen is going to the University of Washington, where rumor has it he will be rooming with his friend and former junior crew member, Forrest Miller, who graduated last year.

Looking ahead, Parr said that he is excited to see the talented Hichens brothers and Rohin Petram continue to lead the way for the boys, as well as what this year’s strong novice girls bring to the crew next season with some experience under their belts.

Enzian, Lynch, Kelly and Selena Mildon will race for national ranking in Sarasota, Florida, June 9 to 11.

— Sarah Low

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