The Women’s V4+ boat led the four OARS boats at the US Rowing Youth National Championships in Sarasota earlier this month with a top-10 finish.
Four boats representing the Windermere-based Orlando Area Rowing Society boathouse qualified for the US Rowing Youth National Championships in Sarasota earlier this month.
Although all four boats successfully advanced past time trials June 9 to the finals on June 10 and 11, it was the Women’s V4+ boat of Savannah Sellers, Jaime Armitage, Alison Haas, Jessie Way and Samantha Sizelove that broke through to finish within the top-10, nationally, by placing eighth overall.
“We’ve always known this boat could do very well,” Sizelove said. “Everyone in this boat was very, very motivated, and we all had the dedication and the common goal of being in the top 10.”
The top-10 finish is one of the strongest for an OARS varsity girls boat in several years, but the Women’s V4+ boat was not alone in feeling good about its showing at Nationals.
The Women’s Lightweight V8+ boat placed 20th in the nation.
The boat included Jenny Finch, Megan Ford, Nicole Abruzzo, Kaitlyn Bennett, Payton Graziotti, Morgan Cunningham, Hailey Waller, Jaelin Figueroa and Ashlie Infante.
The boys from OARS got in on the action, too.
The Men’s V8+ boat improved from 20th place in the nation in 2016 to 14th place in the nation this summer. The boat includes John Kiely, Ryan McKinney, Sean McKinney, Valentine Lindsay, John Stephan, Owen Villaneuva, Timothy Miller, Nathan Kohl and Clarissa Barquist.
Finally, the Men’s V4+ boat placed 17th in the nation. That boat included Aaron Russo, Cameron McElwee, Matthew DiRico, Zachary Lung and James Sabis.
In addition to months of hard work, OARS rowers had a built-in advantage at the National meet, because it was in Sarasota this summer — on a body of water in which they have competed many times before.
“We knew the course really well,” Sellers said. “We knew where the wind would hit us hard, if there was wind.”
What is also exciting for the boats that made it to Nationals is that each girls boat only had one senior and each boys boat had just two seniors, meaning most of the athletes will return for another shot at an even better finish in 2018.
For OARS Director of Rowing Kirsten Anderson, it was also encouraging to see two teams each for the boys and girls compete well on the sport’s biggest stage for youths.
“I think what was great this year was that we had so many boats from both sides of our boathouse — from our men’s team and our women’s team,” Anderson said.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].