By Campbell Foster, Design Editor
For the past few years, the Vashon Island Rowing Club has qualified several boats to go to the Junior National Championships, which takes place in different locations each year. This year there are two pairs going to Sarasota, Florida from June 9-11. One boat has senior Selena Mildon and freshman Katherine Kelly, and the other has senior Rhea Enzian — who goes to SAMI (Science and Math Institute) — and junior Riley Lynch.
Teams from all across the nation are going to Florida to compete for a three-day regatta.
At the regional regatta in Vancouver, WA, on May 17-21, Enzian and Lynch pulled away with a first-place win for the women’s pair in the Northwest region. They have been fighting for this win for three years, and this is the first year they have won the women’s pair.
Kelly and Mildon came home with a second-place medal, trailing right behind Enzian and Lynch by 12 seconds. This secured both of them spots at the national championship.
Since then, the girls have been practicing each day with Coach Richard Parr from 3 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., with practices involving just Parr and the four girls.
“Our practices have increased in intensity somewhat, but I think the biggest difference is our focus,” Enzian said. “With only two boats, we get a lot more coaching time and our attention is directed towards our one goal of doing well at nationals.
Last year, 17 people from the team went to nationals in New Jersey, but only four people qualified this year. In order to qualify for nationals, one has to place in the top three in a US Rowing regional regatta, but this year, many people from the Vashon Island Rowing Club placed fourth — meaning they weren’t eligible.
Due to the fact that in the past there have been more boats that have qualified, the nationals-bound girls have been used to the practice schedule with at least 17 other people.
“I have been to nationals three times before,” Lynch said. “The energy at practices is not as high with only four people, but it does give us a chance to really focus on our boats and what we need to be doing.”
This is Mildon’s first year rowing, making her a novice. She joined the team in the fall of 2016, and will go to Marist College in New York to continue with her rowing career.
“I wanted to qualify super bad because even though it’s my first year, it’s my last year to make it to nationals with Vashon Island Rowing Club,” Mildon said. “It being my first year just makes it more exciting.”
At the national level, they will face much stronger competition. “I am excited for the high level of racing and being surrounded by so many amazing and competitive athletes,” Enzian said.
The nationals-bound girls hope to come out with success and possibly a medal or two under their belts.
“I am hoping to make it to the A final and maybe medal,” Enzian said.
Enzian and Lynch both are united in their goals due to the fact that they are boatmates. They have placed in and won the B final for the last few years at the Junior National Championships, but they have never made it to the A final.
“I am hoping that my pair partner and I will at least make the A final [top 6 in the nation] this year, but we would love to medal if possible,” Lynch said.
“I want to come out feeling good with our races and hopefully end up in the top half of the rankings!” Mildon said.