KENNETT SQUARE – Seven athletes from Kennett and Unionville High Schools have advanced to the 2012 US Rowing National Championships in Oak Ridge, Tennessee June 8 – 10. The rowers qualified and earned their invitations to Nationals by taking top honors at the Mid Atlantic Regionals, May 11 – 12 at Mercer Lake in Princeton, New Jersey. Mercer Lake is an official training site for the U.S. national rowing team.
Qualifying for Nationals were Unionville High School juniors Nathan Smith, Sabine Sellers, Maggie Simpson, Jake Weltz and Patrick Collins along with Kennett High School senior Chandler Clemens and sophomore Julia Baumel. The local athletes compete with Newport Rowing Club (NRC).
This year will mark Unionville’s Nathan Smith’s third appearance in three years at Nationals. He has also recently been invited to the U.S. Junior Men’s National Team Selection Camp where he will compete for the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in August.
“Nathan is a rare athlete,” comments John Cohn, NRC head coach and former National Champion. “He has some natural gifts, but more importantly, he pays attention to technique, gives 100% plus every day and is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever encountered.” Still in his junior year, Smith has already attracted the attention of college rowing coaches from top schools across the country, including the Ivy Leagues.
Sabine Sellers recently received international recognition placing 5th at the World Indoor Rowing Championship in her category in February.
The local rowers worked hard to qualify for the national competition this year traveling to train on the Christina River in Delaware six days and upwards of 15 hours a week beginning last summer. Though just in its second year of competition, Newport Rowing Club had four out of five eligible crews qualify for the trip to compete in the National Championships.
“Nationals are like the NCAAs for basketball, you have to earn a bid to participate,” Cohn said. “It’s quite an honor for these athletes and the venue is one of the best in the country.”
“Last year, two of our athletes qualified for Nationals… this year we are taking a total of fourteen outstanding rowers,” he added. Four of the 14 athletes going to Nationals with NRC are first year rowers. The youngest is in 7th grade.
“The fact that we have so many crews qualify for the National Championships is testament to the dedication and effort our coaches and athletes have put into taking the club’s competition and training to a new level this year.”
The US Rowing National Championships draw more than 1,500 athletes from high school and junior programs across the country to compete for national titles on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The best 13 to 18 year old rowers in the country race in 2,000 meter heats.
Located along the Christina River, the Newport Rowing Club (NRC) was created in July 2010 as a private/public partnership to train young athletes and promote competitive and recreational rowing as a lifetime sport. By working with local businesses, area schools and the city, the Club’s focus is to develop a state-of-the-art rowing center and nationally recognized competitive rowing program. More than 75 area high school students from Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania head down to the Christina River most afternoons to hone their rowing skills and work together to become smoother, faster and more competitive in the water. For more information, visit the Newport Rowing Club website at www.newportrowingclub.org.