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Bound for Nationals

More than 50 local athletes will compete in the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships, held this weekend at Nathan Benderson Park.

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  • | 7:23 a.m. June 10, 2015
  • East County
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Youthful. Slow. Different. Competitive. Unpredictable. Those are just a few of the many characteristics that both the Sarasota Crew’s varsity 8+ rowers and coaches have used to describe the boat this season. 

After losing seven of its top eight rowers to graduation over the past two years, the boat that once garnered national acclaim is struggling to find its identity.

But although the Crew might not boast the same level of talent and experience as in recent years, the men’s varsity 8+ still believes it can be competitive on a national scale. 

“The style is a little different than it has been in the past,” says Nick Edwards, the lone varsity 8+ rower returning from the Crew’s 2013 national championship team. “It’s a different culture and a different way of rowing.

“People have been calling this a rebuilding year for us, but one of our (coaches) told us, ‘We don’t rebuild. We just reload,’” Edwards says. 

Edwards and fellow varsity 8+ rower and co-captain Sebastian Spivey hope to transform the boat they helped build from the bottom up into a national title contender once again, as they prepare to lead a young Crew contingent in the USRowing Youth National Championships June 12 through June 14, at Nathan Benderson Park, in Sarasota. 

The USRowing Youth National Championships, which will be held locally for the first time, is the United States’ premiere youth rowing event. Roughly 1,500 athletes representing 160 teams from across the country will vie for national titles in 18 different boat classifications. 

Racing begins at 8 a.m. and runs throughout the afternoon. Heat races will be held June 12 followed by a second round of racing and the semifinals June 13. All finals races will be held June 14. Admission is free, and parking is $5. 

The Crew qualified seven boats for the youth national championships, but, due to injuries and other circumstances only six boats, including the men’s and women’s 8+, men’s and women’s lightweight 8+ and men’s and women’s 4x, will be competing. 

“We’re just trying to maintain the tradition of excellence,” Spivey says. “We’re very competitive with each other. It’s very cutthroat out there. The pressure is on pretty much every day.” 

After winning a national title in 2013, the Crew sent all four of its 8+ boats to the finals in 2014 with the men’s varsity 8+ finishing third. 

“It hasn’t happened frequently, so to have all four eights reach the grand final is pretty impressive,” Crew head coach Casey Galvanek says. “Those were the most successful two years we’ve ever had. We (probably) can’t come back to that level, but we’re going to try to do what we can.” 

The Crew enters the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships having won its fifth-consecutive state championship and the overall points trophy at the USRowing Southeast Youth Championships in the past month and a half. 

“The kids have worked really hard all season,” Galvanek says. “We just want them to execute and do the best that they can.” 

The Crew has been busy preparing for the youth national championships since 46 of its rowers qualified in early May. The team has been training six days a week at Nathan Benderson Park, sometimes twice a day, in hopes of gaining a competitive edge this weekend. 

“We’re used to the heat and humidity,” Edwards says. “When you walk outside, the heat just hits you like a freight train. We’re also used to unpredictable winds that can (pop) up, so hopefully that will help us against some of the other teams.” 

In addition to the Crew, the Sarasota Scullers qualified a pair of boats for the USRowing Youth National Championships. The Scullers, who also have been routinely training at Benderson in preparation for the championships, will send both their men’s and women’s 4x boats to compete. 

For more information on the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships at Nathan Benderson Park, visit or 

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected]

Sarasota Crew

Women’s Youth 8+

  • Eliza Culp, Pine View
  • Katie Molinari, Lakewood Ranch High 
  • Tess Dilan, Pine View
  • Alexandra Grjin, Sarasota Military Academy
  • Allie Pitchford, Pine View
  • Hailey Todoroff, Lakewood Ranch High
  • Olivia Epstein, Pine View
  • Cameron Berlin, Pine View 

Men’s Youth 8+

  • Jacob Franks, homeschool
  • Sebastian Spivey, Pine View
  • Alexander Dluzneski, Pine View
  • John Schofield, Pine View 
  • Clark Dean, Pine View
  • Nick Edwards, Riverview High
  • Loren Bremer, Venice High
  • Aiden Norder, Pine View
  • Sydney Edwards, Pine View 

Women’s Youth Lightweight 8+

  • Sydney Wright, Lakewood Ranch High
  • Maggie Klimchuck, Pine View
  • Romy Roberts, Pine View
  • Sidney London, Pine View
  • Andrew Munoz, Pine View
  • Gabrielle Munoz, Pine View
  • Tatum Cox, Pine View
  • Regan Straeb, Pine View
  • Samantha Ennis, Pine View

Men’s Lightweight 8+

  • Zach Stith, Sarasota Military Academy
  • Alexander Talmadge, Pine View
  • Parker Michel, Pine View
  • Blake Jackson, Pine View
  • Jeremy Lipford, Venice High
  • Cian Graue, Pine View
  • Emmet Homeister, 
  • Riverview High
  • Liam Costigan, Riverview High
  • Jacob Shusko, Riverview High

Women’s Youth 4+

  • Alexis Feraco, Pine View
  • Olivia Deniro, Venice High
  • Brianna Marchegiani, Sarasota Military Academy
  • Lauren Mitchell, homeschool

Men’s Youth 4+

  • Henry Wallace, St. Stephen’s
  • Graham Bowman, Riverview High
  • Aaron Reger, Sarasota Military Academy
  • Omar Temraz, Pine View


  • Katie Barnett, Sarasota High
  • Chloe Thacker, Pine View 
Sarasota Scullers

Women’s Youth 4x

  • Christina Riccobono, Sarasota High
  • Katie Beiler, Riverview High
  • Kimia Spikes, Sarasota Military Academy
  • Cheyenne Adams, Sarasota Military Academy 

Men’s Youth 4x

  • Christopher Cail, Pine View
  • James Davenport, Cardinal Mooney
  • Andrew Leroux, Pine View
  • Kenneth Hubbard, Venice High
By the numbers
  • 18: National titles will be awarded during the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships. 
  • 2013: The year the Sarasota Crew men’s varsity 8+ won the national title. 
  • 1: Rower remains from the Sarasota Crew men’s varsity 8+ national championship team. 
  • 46: The number of rowers the Sarasota Crew will be sending to this year’s youth national championships. 
  • 1,500: The approximate number of athletes who will be competing in the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships. 
  • 2: The number of boats the Sarasota Scullers qualified for the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships. 
  • 30: The approximate combined number of kilometers the Sarasota Crew rows during its morning and afternoon practices. 



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