Hard Work Pays Off For Oakland Srokes

After months of high-intensity training, the season’s work finally paid off for athletes at Oakland Strokes Rowing Club. At the Southwest Regional Championships on May 8 and 9, all of the eights (boats including eight rowers and one coxswain) in Oakland Strokes’ varsity division placed in the top three of their category. But for certain members of the team, the work is still not done; the Women’s Varsity 8+, Men’s Varsity 8+, and Women’s Lightweight 8+ will continue training to compete at the Junior Rowing National Championships in Cincinnati, OH this June.
At Nationals, Miramonte students Becky Bauer ‘12, Dana Walsh ‘10, Nikki Dahlberg-Seeth ‘10, Elizabeth Lenczowski ‘10, and Molly Fehr ‘10 will represent Oakland Strokes in the women’s Varsity 8+ along with four other boat mates from other schools in the Bay Area. At Regional’s, they finished four seconds in front of Marin Rowing Association, earning a gold medal and a spot at Nationals.
“We’ve been working really hard all season, and it finally paid off at Regional’s,” said Bauer, “Everyone’s really excited for the opportunity to compete against some of the best teams in the nation.”
Joining the Varsity 8+ in Cincinnati is Oakland Strokes’ Women’s Lightweight 8+; a boat in which athletes cannot exceed the weight limit of 130 lbs. Miramonte students Michelle Lee ‘12, Anne Hofinga ‘10, Lenczowski, Bauer, and Fehr raced the Lightweight 8+ with four other rowers from Oakland Strokes. This boat finished first at Regional’s, two seconds in front of Los Gatos Rowing Club, and secured their spot in Cincinnati as well.
“Regional’s was a really great race,” said Lee. “All of us came off the water so happy that we were crying. Now we’re all really excited to compete at a national level and see how things work out.”
The Women’s JV8+ and 3V8+ boats also placed first in their categories, leaving Oakland Strokes with gold medals in every Women’s 8+ event. Dahlberg-Seeth and Walsh also medaled in the Woman’s 2 (a boat with two rowers and no coxswain), finishing in second place behind Capital Crew.
“The women’s team did remarkably well,” said Oakland Strokes head coach Derek Byrnes. “This was the first time I’ve ever seen a women’s Varsity team win every 8+ event. I think it was an example of all the hard work they put in throughout the year. ”
From the men’s team, Miramonte students Alec Steele ‘11, Ian Drake ‘11, Cameron Drake ‘12, and Rocky Davis ‘11 will compete at Nationals with five other teammates in the men’s Varsity 8+. At Regional’s, this 8+ came in third place behind Marin Rowing Association and Los Gatos Rowing Club, taking the final spot at Nationals away from Newport Aquatic Center, who they beat by two seconds.
“We were really happy with our performance at Regional’s,” said Ian Drake. “We’ve been training really hard since then, and I think we can do even better at Nationals.”
Yet another Oakland Strokes boat to qualify for Nationals was the Men’s Lightweight 8+, a boat in which rowers cannot exceed the weight limit of 155 lbs. Miramonte students Alex Tehrani ‘11, Davis, and Steele raced this 8+ with six other lightweights from the team. This boat crossed the finish line in fourth place, but due to the disqualification of Newport Aquatic Center, was awarded with third place and a spot at Cincinnati. Although they qualified for Nationals, the Men’s Lightweight 8+ has decided that they will not be competing.
“There was too much money involved,” said Trevor Langum ‘11, who rowed in the Men’s Novice 8+ and was placed in the Men’s Lightweight 8+ after Regional’s. “Not enough families could support their kids going, and also a lot of people were overweight.”
The Men’s JV8+ and 3V8+ boats also medaled, finishing in second place and third place in their respective categories. Miramonte students Jack Maxon ‘12, Gabe Larwood ‘11, Mathison Young ‘13,  Cameron Drake ‘12, and Langum raced the Men’s Novice 8+ and placed first, finishing less that one second before Newport Aquatic Center.
“I’m really excited to see the whole team race at Nationals,” said Byrnes. “It’s great that we’re able to come together and race the best of the best; that doesn’t happen in other sports.”
The Junior Rowing National Championships will be held in Cincinnati, OH on June 11-13, 2010.