Long Beach Junior Crew wrapped up a successful weekend of racing in Sacramento on Sunday afternoon. The Southwest Regional Junior Rowing Championships serves as a championship for Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii and California. This is not only a championship regatta for all youth rowers, but it is also a qualifier for the National Championships. A top 3 finish in a Varsity event qualifies for the USRowing Youth National Championships in Sarasota, Florida in early June.
It is hard to say that one boat in particular led the charge, because it truly was a full team effort over the weekend. Each of our four squads (novice and varsity, men and women) had excellent racing. As a club we won 3 Golds, 2 Silvers, and 1 Bronze. We also had 4(!) boats finish painfully close to the medals in 4th place.
On Saturday afternoon, our novice women kicked off the medal haul with a commanding 7-second victory in the Women’s Novice 4x+ final. The girls made it look easy with their open water win. The future of sculling at LBJC looks promising! The next final was the Women’s Freshmen 8+, which is a mix of Varsity and Novice. Despite being a mixed boat, these girls looked as though they had been training together all season. The rowed well and finished in 4th place, 4 seconds out of 3rd place, in an impressive time of 7:14. There is no doubt that training together these girls will do some serious damage in the years to come. Not long after was the final of the Lightweight Women’s 2x. These cruised down the course in second place and at the 1500m mark, we were down 2.5 Lengths (7 seconds) to Redwood Scullers who were in first. In the last 500m our girls had an amazing sprint finishing only 1.7 seconds back and earning a silver medal and our first bid for Nationals. Next up was our Women’s Novice 4+, who battled down the course and earned a bronze medal, finishing 9 seconds ahead of the 4th, wrapping up a great season in that event.
Determined not to let the girls have all the fun, the Men’s Novice 4x+ came down the course battling neck and neck with Redwood Scullers the whole race. With a “supreme” effort in the last 500m, our guys managed to get their bow ahead at the line- winning by 0.7 seconds. To cap off Saturday’s finals was the men’s lightweight 2x. 4 hours earlier the Francia brothers raced their heat. With 500m to go in the heat, they were sitting in 3rd and needed to place top 2 to make the final. The brothers had an epic sprint not only moving into qualifying position, but also winning the heat with the fastest time no less. Fast forward to the final: The brothers were in 4th place with 500m to go. They needed a top 3 finish to medal and qualify for nationals, making this almost the same situation as the heat. They had another amazing sprint, but as any good honeybee knows: you can only release your stinger once. The guys rowed their hearts out and made another epic comeback but ended up missing third place by 0.2 seconds. Wow. What a day of racing.
On Sunday morning before the National Anthem started Alfredo calmly stated, “You know Saturday was actually pretty good, but Sunday is usually the best for us.” First race of the day was the men’s lightweight 4+. The guys were battling for second place in the first half of the race while the leaders were a couple lengths out. In the second half of the race, our guys began reeling in Newport and left all others in their wake. They finished 4 seconds out of first in a fast time of 6:41 and clinched a bid for nationals. The next race was the Women’s Varsity 4x. Our girls had a very hard fought race. They truly pushed it to the limit battling Oakland and Redwood Scullers down the course. Unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of that fight and finished 1.8 seconds out of 3rd place, far ahead of the rest of the field. The next final was the Women’s Lightweight 4+, which turned out as expected: a two boat race for the lead between Marina and LBJC. Our girls had been beat by Marina earlier this season and were looking for revenge. Our 4+ was ahead off the start but the lead was slowly decreasing and at 1000m Marina over took Long Beach for the lead. The crews were going stroke for stroke nearly the entire race until the last 300m. Marina was ahead by about a deck when our girls erupted into a tremendous sprint and went from a ¼ Length down to ¾ of a Length up at the finish line. The girls first place finish means that we retain the “Alfredo Montenegro Trophy” and that they earned themselves another month of training for nationals. Next up was our Women’s Second Novice 8+. Our girls did well to make the final amongst some of the biggest programs in the country. The girls battled their way their way 5th place. Our women’s top Novice 8+ raced their final not long after. In a very competitive and tight field our girls finished in 6th place just behind Marin. The last final was our Women’s Lightweight 8+. They improved quite a bit after a line up switch from their heat earlier in the day but it was not enough for a medal. They finished in 4th place, 4 seconds out of the medals.
All in all in was a fantastic regatta. We are incredibly proud of every rower and coxswain for their effort and commitment this season. Each one of our four squads finished with medals. Going over the results, it is truly amazing how many 4th place finishes we had. That should be motivation for next year. Our 6 medals could very well be 10 medals. While we don’t only judge our team’s success on how well we perform at regionals, it is the goal that allows us to perfect our daily process and gives our journey a destination.
Next stop: Nationals. Go Beach!