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Sarasota Crew rowers race the best at Youth Nationals


Sarasota Crew freshman Jenna Khalil (second from left) was in the stroke seat in the Sarasota Crew girls U16 8+ boat at the US Rowing Youth National Championships, between coxswain Sophia Karanjai and rowers Claire Xia and Annalise Naylor. The boat finished seventh in the A Final (7:32.17).
Sarasota Crew freshman Jenna Khalil (second from left) was in the stroke seat in the Sarasota Crew girls U16 8+ boat at the US Rowing Youth National Championships, between coxswain Sophia Karanjai and rowers Claire Xia and Annalise Naylor. The boat finished seventh in the A Final (7:32.17).
Photo by Ryan Kohn
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At the 2024 USRowing Youth National Championships, held June 6-9 at Nathan Benderson Park, the tension could be felt in the air. 

Not only were the more than 4,000 athletes in attendance competing for national glory, but for many of them, the event was the last time they will ever wear their junior teams' uniforms before heading into the next phase of their lives. Going out with a less-than-stellar effort is not acceptable. 

Sarasota Crew senior captains Maeva Ginsberg-Klemmt and William Mathes were two such competitors, and after their races, they gave thanks not just for a great final event, but for their Crew careers as a whole. 

Ginsberg-Klemmt, the girls captain and a member of the girls varsity 8+ boat, said her experience with the Crew showed her the importance of self-motivation. While the team's coaches have a deep knowledge of the sport, she said, they put the preparation for big events on the rowers, teaching them how to be responsible and independent. 

Sarasota Crew senior captains William Mathes and Maeva Ginsberg-Klemmt rowed their final junior races at Youth Nationals.
Photo by Ryan Kohn

"You find out your own limits," Ginsberg-Klemmt said. "It has been nice. Everybody works so hard to achieve their goals, and everybody's goals are different. But at the end of the day, you come together to compete and race. It's a great environment." 

The girls varsity 8+ boat finished second in the C Final (6:55.38). 

Mathes, the boys captain and a member of the boys varsity 8+, said that every boat's goal at the start of Youth Nationals is to take gold, and they grade themselves by how close they get to that goal. The boat took eighth place in the A Final (6:01.58). It is not the finish the boat wanted, Mathes said, but it was not for a lack of effort. 

"We left everything we had on the water," Mathes said. 

Though Mathes is now leaving junior rowing behind, he will not soon forget the experience. In his opinion, he said, joining Sarasota Crew is the best decision he's ever made and encourages others curious about rowing to do the same. 

For other rowers, this year's championships were another chance to gain experience for future seasons. Sophomore Gabi DeLeo, another member of the girls varsity 8+ boat, was at her second Youth Nationals, but her first in the varsity 8+ boat; last year, she rowed at the U17 level. DeLeo said the level of jump in competition was significant, but gave her excitement for the future. 

"I know how much speed I can gain because of the great people I am racing with," DeLeo said. "Our training is hard. At times it feels like, 'Oh my gosh, I don't know if I can finish this piece,' but you always get through it because the rewards are so great. Not just medals at Nationals, but new friends. I have learned so many lessons from (teammates). I could not ask for anything better." 

The best results of the weekend came from the Crew's younger rowers. The men's U17 8+ boat finished fourth in the A Final (6:28.25), the men's U16 8+ boat finished fifth in the A Final (6:37.95) and the women's U16 8+ boat finished seventh in the A Final (7:32.17). 

Freshman Jenna Khalil, who sat in the stroke seat in the women's U16 8+ boat, said reaching the A Final was a dream come true, as it was the boat's goal prior to the event. 

"We were like, 'Oh my gosh, we did it,'" Khalil said. "Being here, it's a lot. It's scary. You are around everyone who worked year-round to be here. There are so many teams, so many girls, who want it as bad as you do. It's hard, but it feels good (to succeed)."

Full results from the event can be found at Time-Team.nl/en/info

 

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Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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