Long Beach Junior Crew competed at the 2018 Youth National Rowing Championships in Rancho Cordova, California on June 8th – 10th  just outside Sacramento.
In order to qualify for this regatta, crews from all over the country had to place Top 3 in their respective regions.
More than 1,500 athletes in 350 boats from 150 teams qualified from 12 different Regional Qualifier Regattas.
In addition to those athletes, there is a petition process that allows a select number of deserving crews that finish outside of the top 3 to still compete at the Nationals.
Long Beach Junior Crew qualified 3 boats for Nationals at the Southwest Junior Regional Championships-  the Lightweight Men’s 2x, the lightweight Men’s 4+, and the Women’s 4x.
In addition, we put in a petition for the Women’s pair who (after catching a crab) finished 4th at regionals.  The Committee accepted their petition 9 days before the start of the National Championships.  Lucky for us, the girls had already been training hard for several weeks.
      The team arrived at the course on Wednesday, two days ahead of the start of the regatta.   We had ample time to rig, practice and get set up to race.  There was a tremendous amount of positive energy on our team.  The athletes had trained to the absolute best of their abilities and over 5 weeks and were extremely excited to finally race the best in the country.
    The format for the regatta was Time Trials on Friday, Semifinals on Saturday, and Finals on Sunday.
In the time trial, every boat in the event would race down the course one by one.  The Top 8 crews would go directly to the Semifinal.  The rest of the boats in each event would go to a Repechage later Friday afternoon. From there the top 4 boats would go to the 12 boat semi final, the rest of the boats would either be eliminated or go to a C final.
In the Semifinal the top 3 crews from two semifinals would advance to the A Final and get to race for the medals, and the rest to the B Final.  
     With about 20 of the top boats nationally in each event assembled, there was no room for error in the time trial.   Amazing, all four of LBJC’s boat advanced DIRECTLY to the semi-final.   The men’s lightweight double and the women’s pair led the charge both finished in second place, less than a second off of the leader. The men’s lightweight four finish in 7th place and the women’s quad finished in 5th place.    Having all of our boats avoid the repechages later that afternoon was a huge success.  An extra race in the hot afternoon sun is definitely not the easiest route to the final.   Our hard work and good performances allowed us to stay cool and refuel for the semifinals the next day.   To give you an idea of the level of completion, in the women’s pair for example- only one out of the three medalists from our southwest regionals moved on from the time trials.   This regatta is incredibly competitive.
     On Saturday morning, our four boats had challenging semifinals ahead of them.   Conditions we fairly good with a building crosshead wind from the south.
     First down the course was the women’s pair.  Annika Maxson and Brooke Campbell looked very strong winning their semifinal by a bit of open water in a time of 8:06.
The Texas Rowing Center pair won the other semifinal with a time of 8:01.    
     In the men’s lightweight double, Logan Chakos and Zach Freidrichs  led wire to wire in their semifinal, winning by just under a second over Parati Rowing from Texas.   
     In the Lightweight Men’s Four,  Trent Francia, Jack Love, Tibor Francia, Tyler Francia, and coxswain Tess Nemnichhad an amazing race.  Sitting in 4th position almost the entire race, the “Triplets plus Jack” began reeling in the field during the last 500m and during the last 250m they raised the rating into the mid 40’s (VERY HIGH) blowing right past Belen Jesuit (Florida) to snag the final spot in the A final.  Amazing.  
     Finally, the Women’s quad of Alex Benson, Danielle Hoekstra, Brooke Campbell, and Annika Maxson had a hard fought race, gradually pulling away from GMS (Connecticut) and finishing in third.  With that race complete,  LBJC officially had all of our boats qualify for the A final securing a top 6 finish, a tremendous accomplishment.
The team spent the rest of  the day relaxing at the movie theatres, having our last team dinner, and some even caught a great sunset.  The team was ready to go.
        Our first race on Sunday morning was the women’s pair.  In an extremely impressive piece of rowing, Brooke and Annikatook control of the race from the first stroke.   After the first 500m, our girls had one length lead on the field and by the halfway mark they extended it to two lengths.   Brooke and Annika rowed fearlessly.  For the rest of the piece, the pair from Texas chased LBJC.  Brooke and Annika continued to hold onto their margin and in doing so both boat pulled away from the rest of the field significantly.  Our LBJC girls crossed the line in 7:55 about a length ahead of Texas and 10 seconds ahead of the next boat.  It is amazing to think that these girls finished 4th at Regionals, petitioned the boat for nationals, and came away with a dominating performance leading from wire to wire in the final.  Incredible stuff and a well deserved National Championship!
      In the Men’s Lightweight Double, Logan and Zach were undefeated going into the final.   In the first part of the race, the guys had some unfortunate luck and snagged a buoy, which put them behind early.  The guys struggled to find their fast, easy rhythm after the mishap.   In a field with the six fastest boats in the country, even the fastest boat (like we believe ours is) will have trouble catching up without their best race.  Our guys rowed hard all the way to the line and finished in 5th place.   5TH in the country is a tremendous accomplishment, but certainly does not feel as good when you believe that you are capable of winning the race.   Both of the guys are juniors and will no doubt be able to use this race as fuel for next year!
      The next final for LBJC was the Lightweight Four.  Trent, Tibor, Tyler, Jack, and Tess had done very well to make the final.   They were sitting in 6th place most of the race.   With 500m to go, LBJC was open water down to 5th place.   By now we all know that these fellas have an incredible sprint, but this was easily their most impressive to date.   They brought the rating above 40 with 500m to go and started reeling in 5th place.   As all of the other boats started sprinting, our guys went up even higher- to  a  rate of 48 this time!   If you get a chance, you should watch the video at around 1:02:00 in to the video at this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=6Ny4DOTiVQc     All of the boats in the final were sprinting full blast and our guys were melting the field.  They moved into 5th place but they weren’t done.  In the final 10 strokes of the race, they sprinted through longtime rival and Southwest Champion, Newport, and came across the line in 4th place.   The announcer did not even mention Long Beach because we came out of nowhere; it wasn’t until after the race that they confirmed our 4th place position.  Incredibly, the guys finished only one second out of a bronze medal!   While it is bittersweet getting 4th place, we are incredibly proud with how they raced.  They put their best race together when it counted .   Phenomenal effort!
     The final race for LBJC was the Women’s quad.   Brooke and Annika had their pair final less than two hours earlier and were now back on the starting line with Danielle and AlexBenson.    At regionals our quad was in last place off of the start, so we had worked hard over the last 5 weeks to improve that part of the race.  It seemed to pay off as our girls rocketed off the start and put themselves into third position in the nationals final.   The entire way down the course LBJC battled Connecticut Boat Club for third position.   In doing so they pulled many lengths ahead of regional rival Newport.   In the final 500, Connecticut raised their rate and tried to charge ahead, but our LBJC girls continued to respond and hold off their attacks.  LBJC finished in third to win bronze, our second medal of the regatta!  Well rowed ladies! 
       By all measures, LBJC had a very successful National Championships.   Our athletes demonstrated an amazing amount of dedication and focus in the 5 weeks of preparation between Regionals and Nationals.   It was great to see the guys and the girls teams working together during training.  There was a tremendous sense of unity and camaraderie between all the athletes, coaches, and parent chaperones.  There is no doubt in our mind that this fun and positive environment largely contributed to our team’s successful performance. This group in particular was filled with great attitudes and personalities that made it truly an honor to be a part of.
       A week later, looking back on the results we can say that we are incredibly proud and pleased with the hardware we brought home.  However, the real story is that we had all four of our boats in contention for medals.  That is incredible.   We were very close to bringing home more medals than any club in the country.   No matter how well one prepares, there is always an element of luck to every successful performance.  Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t.  Our 4 boats experienced the entire range, but one thing is certain,  we were well prepared for the opportunity!
Heck of a season.  Well Rowed and GO LONG BEACH!
Thank you to Row2k.com for many of these photos.
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