Vashon Island Rowing Club impresses in Florida

Vashon Island Rowing Club’s U15 4x+ boat won silver in Florida, placing second in the nation.

Vashon Island Rowing Club (VIRC) had a phenomenal weekend at the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships in Sarasota, Florida, from June 9 to 12.

More than 3,500 junior athletes from 210 programs across the country competed for titles in 34 boat classes. Two VIRC team boats tested their strength, speed and endurance against the best in the nation.

Both boats placed well in their initial time trial races with the Men’s U15 4x+ advancing to the semis and the Men’s U17 single, barely missing a spot in the semis by two seconds.

Battling jet lag, humidity and more sun than they’d seen in six months, the Men’s U15 4x+ rowers, eighth graders Henry Cooper, Will Parker, Xander Nelson, Quentin Cherry and cox Tyler Davis, placed second in their semi-final on Friday and moved on to the grand final.

Ninth grader Eban Tracy, rowing in the U17 single event, set a personal record of 7:49.4, placing 14th in the nation after a powerful sprint challenging the first-place winner from Miami Beach Crew in the C final, finishing less than a second behind.

On Sunday, the U15 4x+ boat turned out another incredible race, pulling away from crews out of Long Beach, California and Vero Beach, Florida.

They battled for the lead with the boat from NorCal Crew that had previously dominated the time trials and semis. VIRC traded the lead stroke for stroke, ultimately placing second in the nation, winning silver and setting a personal best time as a boat of 7:18.6, a scant 1.2 seconds behind NorCal.

“To be able to come here, totally out of our element, at the ages of 14 and 15 and place so well while also setting PRs in both boats is a testament to the strength, dedication, and composure these guys have shown all season, “ said VIRC Coach Delany Steele.

VIRC’s supportive team environment was in play even during this highly competitive event with rower Eban Tracy going out of his way to support his younger teammates.

“He turned into an unofficial Assistant Coach and was not only the loudest solo cheering squad for the guys in the quad, but led by example, gave great advice, and made sure that they felt confident every time we launched them. He worked hard to show them what it means to represent your team on and off the water and he made the experience better for all of us,” said Coach Steele.

Back home on Vashon, flurries of texts and emails were exchanged all weekend as team members and families excitedly shared updates and results.

“We wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it hadn’t been for the hard work from the entire youth team, and Aidan and Ben. We literally could not have come without the support of the families and our adult team rowers who were our staunchest supporters.” said Steele, expressing her appreciation for the VIRC community.

“It was just as fun to row as it was to medal.” said National silver medalist Quentin Cherry, summing up the weekend in Florida.