Oakland Strokes Rowers Sweep Regionals


H. Deuel

The Oakland Strokes Varsity 8+ Men beat Marin in an extremely close race

Cole Sitar, Staff Writer

Months of hard training finally paid off for the Oakland Strokes Rowing Club when it dominated the 2014 Southwest Junior Regional Rowing Championships on May 2-4. Over the three days of gruelling competition at Lake Natoma, Oakland qualified for National Championships with both the mens’ and womens’ Varsity boats and with both Lightweight boats. The Varsity Men 8+ won their final by a hair-raising .04 seconds.

The Varsity Men 8+ race was especially intense because of an ongoing rivalry with 2nd placed team, the Marin Rowing Association. This was the first time in 10 years that the Varsity men have won Regionals, so Oakland rowers knew that victory was far from certain. Miramonte junior Alex Lilichenko, who is the 6th seat on the Varsity 8+, said “I honestly didn’t know if we would win.”

Despite their doubts, the Varsity 8+, with Miramonte senior Hannah Christopher as coxswain, put their all into the race. “I had to use 100 percent of my strength. It was not easy,” Lilichenko said. In the end, though, Oakland pulled through the finish line with an almost imperceptible .04 second lead. “We didn’t know that we won until we got to shore,” Lilichenko said. “We all started cheering and splashing when we heard. It was an incredible moment.”

The Varsity Women 8+ boat, with coxswain Miramonte junior Margaret Ross, swept their race with a large 9 second lead on Marin, the 2nd placed boat. Because the Varsity Women have been dominating Regionals for years, this was not a surprise. Miramonte junior Marie Johnson, who sat 7th seat in the boat, said “it was a great race.”

In addition to the Varsity boats, both the men’s and women’s Lightweight 8+ qualified for Nationals. Because the top 3 boats in each race qualify for Nationals, the Lightweight men squeezed by in 3rd place, and the Lightweight women made it in a very close 2nd place.

Oakland Strokes rowers trained hard for Regionals throughout the season, but they know that the toughest work is still ahead of them. Nationals start on June 13, and the six weeks of training before are, according Johnson, “harder than the training for the normal season.” Miramonte senior and lightweight rower Matt Cohen expects weights, running, and more intense workouts than before.

However, although may be nervous for the rigorous training, the Oakland Strokes are certainly looking forward to Nationals. “Nationals are really hard, but also really fun,” Johnson said. “I went last year, but they should be even better this year because they’re in California.”