On Friday, Pan Am Trials was completed. It is the first stop in a three-stop journey that will take athletes to the 2023 Pan American Games, Santiago, Chile next October. The Pan American Qualification Regatta, also in Chile, will be next for qualified athletes and winners. This is where the USA’s final allocation of entries would be made based on these results.
These Trials saw athletes race in singles or pairs. The overall results, plus some doubling up, will be used to fill doubles, quads and fours events at the Santiago Pan Am Games. The open singles doubles will take second and third, respectively. On both the men’s and women’s side, the quad will be contested by the top four openweight scullers. Lightweights: The top two singles in each weight class become the Light Double. On the sweep side the top two pairs race as a four.
(The Mixed Eight is drawn out from the eventual group athletes who qualify themselves in March. This assumes that there are eight athletes, four men and four ladies. The Nomination Committee will select the coxswain, as described in Section 2.2. of the 2023 Pan Am Selection Processes.
Before we move on to the winners, who rowed a fine series of races on a compressed schedule while Hurricane Nicole blasted up the East Coast. We should also mention that Pan Am attendance is often complicated.
Senior Worlds team members were encouraged to test for the Pan Am Games, in a departure from previous Pan Am trials. USRowing Chief High Perform Officer Josy Verdonkshot, along with the athletes’ representatives, promised that the Pan Am Qualifier dates in March and October would be included in the “overall high performance calendar.” The letter can be viewed here.
The US has always approached Pan Ams in a different way each year depending on the time of year that Pan Ams fall. The US sometimes sends very senior athletes from their National Training Centers and other times, more development athletes. In other years, the senior athletes skip Pan Ams entirely to concentrate on Worlds, qualification and the impending Olympics.
Today’s winners and qualifiers spoke about their excitement for the chance, but also how they were careful to hedge their bets. They discussed the cost and benefits of the March Pan Am qualification regatta in San Pedro de la Paz (a coastal town 300 miles from Santiago) against where they want to be for the 2023 Worlds or 2024 Olympics.
Open Singles Finals: Top 4 Santiago
Plihal, M1x winner
Craftsbury’s Green Racing Project athletes won the open singles. Grace Joyce, Jacob Plihal and Greg Davis were the winners of tight finals to take the Open Singles spots. Joyce beat Lauren O’Connor, her college teammate and recent Lotman Challenge winner, by only.44 seconds. In the men’s final, Plihal edged Greg Davis, the NYAC’s Men’s Lotman champion by.62 seconds.
O’Connor and Kristi Wagner, her ARION teammate are likely to be selected for the Women’s Double. This would make Tokyo Olympian Wagner’s third international partner in the same years. Savannah Brija, who placed fourth, would then be joining Joyce and Joyce to form the quad. The crew Brija raced at Worlds last year.
The men’s double was formed by Davis and Finn Putnam, his New York AC teammate. Casey Fuller earned a spot on Team USA, where he will complete the quad.
row2k sat down with Fuller to discuss the fourth race, and what it was like to be on the second US Team. (He raced in 2018’s World University Games team).
“I don’t know how to start, but I did a good one. I was right in front of the guys who came one, two, and three. I was there for 1500m, so I knew that I was doing well.
“I was on the outside lane and, when I looked to my right, I saw I was up against Kevin Meador. Kevin has been beating me for two years. I thought, “Oh, wow! I might beat Kevin,” so I was excited. After I finished, I heard the beep and looked to my left. I saw that he was gone, and I was fourth.
“I’ve been trying again to make the national team. In 2018, I was part the World University team. We went to Shanghai, China. Since then, I have wanted to return and join the team. I would love to wear the USA Uni again and to try to represent the country in a positive way.”
Badger Alums Joyce, O’Connor and Strong W1x Showing
Grace Joyce and Lauren O’Connor, former Wisconsin teammates, took the top two spots in W1x. Joyce, the W1x winner started her year 6th place in NSR1’s Final W1x. She took 5th in NSR2’s W2x final before becoming the’superspare’ at Worlds. She said that winning here was “very enjoyable overall.”
Joyce, W1x winner
Joyce stated, “I have learned a lot about race execution.” “Adding the Pan Am Qualifier as an international race experience will only help me in my build-forward, provided all logistics work out.
“After being the spare single at Worlds, then racing in the women’s 4x in Racice and finally competing at Worlds, I was eager to be able to race again. I was glad to participate this week before entering the winter season.
O’Connor’s win at the Lotman Challenge two week ago proved that she has “that speed in me”, as she said to row2k at Row2k at Gold Cup. Today, O’Connor continued her hot streak by securing a spot in the double with ARION’s Wagner.
O’Connor said, “It has been a great month of racing overall.” “I feel very lucky to have been able to race with so many great competitors. It was also a lot of fun to do 2ks in fall.
O’Conner goes from Lotman champ, to Pan Am qualifier in just two weeks
“I’m excited for the opportunity to race internationally, since it’s something I’ve never had before. These races helped me to get in a positive mindset for the spring and know that I could be there with the best scullers at Worlds. I hope that the next few weeks of training will help increase my speed and help me to create a race plan for singles trials and winter speed order. Overall, a great month!”
Plihal Completes Lotman-Trials Sweep
Jacob Plihal just won his Lotman Challenge win and beat Greg Davis. Plihal took advantage of the 2k track to take the win.
Plihal said that the race was intense, but also very enjoyable. Greg took a strong and early lead at the start. I made a momentum shift at the thousand-meter mark and kept my head down until sprint. I had enough runway to get the W at the finish. It was a fun race, and it was great to be neck-and-neck with Greg for the last few hundred.
“I am excited at the opportunity to compete internationally in the men’s single sculls, Plihal said. “It is an honor to be able to represent the USA in this event. It has never been granted to me. It will be an amazing experience to row in the single in an international field. This race experience will help me to train and develop in order to achieve the senior goals that I have set.
Light Singles – Charles Champs Double Down
Two of the new Charles champions, Molly Reckford & Jamie Copus, won the light singles. Reckford was also able to double up as a familiar combination because her Olympic and Worlds partner Michelle Sechser finished second. Copus, a Team GB sculler and dual citizen, will be the Men’s Double. He will be teaming up with Sam Melvin in Copus’ US Team debut.
Copus, first-time winner of the US Trials, in LM1x
Reckford is a Tokyo Olympian who made her National Team debut in the 2019 Worlds. However, she missed the Pan Am Trials.
She said, “I started serious rowing in 2018 and I didn’t realize I could be fast enough to go to Pan Am Trials until I had already missed them.” “I found out about the trials a week after they took place.”
Pan Ams was something that I always wanted to do, but I never got there. It’s like being allowed to do a whole summer of club racing. This is something I have always wanted to do. Pan Am’s is a great experience: less pressure, less serious, and the joy of racing. It’s something I look forward to.
Reckford wins LW1x with her new boat
Reckford, who had tip in an Instagram Story on @womenintheboat that she wasn’t sure how the racing would proceed given her travels since winning The Charles, was happy to report her win.
After the race, she confessed that she was “never felt so prepared for a competition.” “I flew into New Jersey on Monday night. I had been away from the water for a week.
“After the Heads of the Charles, we went back to base training. Then we got back on Tuesday in a boat. I had never been in a Filippi single before, but I did practice it once. I replied, “Okay. We’ll just see what can be done.”
“First race I was around a 30. Then yesterday, I managed to get up to a 32. Today was a result of some pressure from my speedy teammate [Michelle Sechser] In the lane beside me, I managed to get it up to 34-36. It was an amazing learning experience.
Sechser, Sechser’s’speedy teammate in the next lanes’, finished 2nd in LW1x
“Every race was better, and every race I was capable of finding the new gear I needed. So, I’m very, very happy with the racing, especially considering that I was concerned about flipping. I had two bad strokes during the time trial, and I thought, “Oh my God, this is going to be embarrassing if it ends up being a swim.”
Reckford and Sechser have already booked to race together again in this Trials. This combo made the Olympic Final, won Poznan World cup, and was the USA’s best Olympic event finish at 2022 Worlds.
Reckford said that they are looking forward to the opportunity to race again as doubles. We enjoy traveling together and racing together is so much fun. It helps us both feel confident and it is a good thing to be teammates.
Women’s Pair – Collins & Wanamaker Keep Rolling
Claire Collins and Maddie Wanamaker, the World’s bronze medal-winning team (pictured at the top), won the final and time trial. They continue to be the best in the event. Collins and Wanamaker are, like Secsher’s light double, senior team athletes and Pan Ams is part of their training.
Daisy Mazzio Manson (left) and Emily Froelich (right) will join them in making the Pan Am Four.
Froehlich & Mazzio Manson were the 2nd fastest duo
Wanamaker stated that racing in a familiar combination helped him when it came time for the fall 2k Trials.
“We have enjoyed being back in Princeton with all our teammates since Worlds and being pushed every day by them. We were one the few partnerships to stay together, which was a great thing for a fall 2k regatta.
“We’ll have more conversations about travel to qualifying, but hope that we can race together (and with Daisy) more often in the future.”
Men’s Pair – From 12k to 2k, Distance Doesn’t Matter for Carlson & Hedge
Alexander Hedge and Ezra Carlson completed a trifecta at Trials. They won the US Men’s 8–of both the 12k Kanal Cup, and the 5k Head the Charles. To complete their fall, they won the 2k in the 2- race. Add in Carlson’s single win in sculling, which earned him the Head of the Charles title, and that makes it four wins across three boat class categories. Hedge laughed when asked if he was really a “multiple threat” when selecting a team.
Hedge and Carlson in their old lineup at NSR2 May
We also inquired about the experience of sweeping and sculling at such an elite level and winning at both.
Carlson stated that the single was a personal, unique challenge. It’s unique because there is no one else in the boat with you. It’s an excellent training tool. You can reach back and push your self in the single. I enjoy that, but it’s also fun to get into the team boat. The pair has been a favorite of mine for many years, especially since I raced it at Worlds 2019. [with Anders Weiss, eds.] I’m fortunate enough to have had some truly great partners.
“As we move closer to Paris, people become more certain about which boat they are looking at. It’s still not clear where I will end up in the group. This fall, I feel confident that I can be in the single, in an 8 and in the pair. I feel confident and competent in each of these roles. I can also be flexible and ready to take on any role that is required for the team going into Paris the next year.
Carlson (7) and Hedge(2) on a big day in the boat, winning The Charles
Hedge and Hedge were able to race the pair in tandem. This was a chance for them to return in the same boat that helped them last spring. Their second place finish at NSR2 earned them spots in the sweep camp.
“The last couple of weeks, we leapt back in the pair,” Carlson stated, “trying out new lineups, with me, stroking Alexander in bow. This is a great challenge for us to understand each other’s roles.
“We had a great time racing. We went out and tried to chase percentages. To find a solid rhythm and see how far we could go over 2k, we just wanted to race.
“We have some things we want to improve upon the next time that we get a run down of the course, but it is the end of the autumn now, so we are just looking at winter Training: trying to get back to a solid training block in order to be able to take a step ahead from this spring come back stronger and faster.”
Carson and Hedge will be joined by Cooper Hurley and Nicholas Ruggiero from Penn AC in the Pan Am four. They are the only pair that has raced the Trials after scratching by other entries.
The winners and qualifiers of these Trials will now be notified about the March Qualification Regatta dates. These will be published by COPARE (the Pan American Rowing Confederation). USRowing expects that the next few weeks will bring you the 2023 National Team Selection procedures.
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