Kennett/Unionville rowers ranked in US top 20

Nathan Smith and teammate Phil Claudy compete in the  U.S. Rowing National Championships.

Seven rowers from Kennett and Unionville High Schools traveled to Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tennessee last week to compete in the US Rowing National Championships. The competition was intense with 1,500 of the best high school and junior athletes from across the nation competing in 18 events. All seven of the Kennett/Unionville rowers brought home Top 20 Honors in the nation and are nationally ranked with the US Rowing Federation.

Earning national ranking 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).

Nathan Smith led the Men’s Pair to a fifth place finish in their race which ranked them 11th in the country. The Women’s Lightweight 4+  which included Chandler Clemens, Julia Baumel and Sabine Sellers captured 12th nationally. The Lightweight Men’s 4 including Maggie Simpson as coxswain, Jake Weltz and Patrick Collins grabbed 18th despite their coxswain’s voice giving out at the start of the race.

Kennett High School student Julia Baumel was among seven local rowers to qualifying for the U.S. Nationals.

UHS’s Nathan Smith has 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.

Head Coach John Cohn summed up the weekend’s competition saying, “More than anything, leaving Oak Ridge with four crews nationally ranked tells me that the club is heading in the right direction and the dedication of these athletes has paid off.  I’m especially excited when I think about next year’s possibilities, given that we’re only graduating two seniors out of our fourteen Nationals attendees. Stats to note:

Last year in NRC’s first full year of competition two athletes qualified for Youth Nationals. This year, the second full year, fourteen (14) athletes, comprising four (4) squads, qualified.

This year’s trip to Nationals marked the return for 4 athletes – Patrick Beane (third trip to Nationals), Nathan Smith (third trip), Chandler Clemens (second trip), Sabine Sellers (second trip)

All four NRC squads qualified for finals competition – 2 Petite (2nd level) Finals, 2 C Finals.

Of the NRC squads who qualified for Petite Finals, 3 athletes were novice (first year) rowers.

Rowing what many would claim is the hardest boat to row, NRC’s Women’s Pair, an 8th grader and a novice rower, finished Top 15 in the nation.

NRC represented one of the youngest teams at Youth Nationals with a 7th grader, an eighth grader, 1 freshman, 4 sophomores, 5 juniors, and only 2 seniors.

To compete in Nationals, rowers must have first earned top ranking in one of seven regional competitions across the country. This year’s Nationals included 360 crews from 158 clubs in 30 states competing in 18 races with men’s and women’s titles awarded in nine categories: eights, lightweight eights, quads, fours, lightweight fours, pairs, doubles, lightweight doubles and singles.

The rowers will continue to train this summer with NRC. The club offers “Learn to Row” camps throughout the summer for all skill levels and ages starting from 10 years old. Rowers will experience the sport of rowing and hone their skills with others at their level. As close to a personal coaching experience as you can get, campers learn the sport of rowing from the very same coaches heading up the NRC junior competitive program.

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 Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware 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

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