Rowing: RCTW duo shows well at nationals
The Rowing Club of The Woodlands is ranked No. 11 in the nation and the youth rowers are making their presence felt on the national scene.
Rowing Club of The Woodlands Juniors (RCTWJ) recently qualified two rowers to compete in a field of more than 1,500 from high school and junior rowing programs across the country, competing for titles in 18 different classes, at the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships held on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Thomas Eastwick and Hugo Gomez won their event at the qualifying regatta in Oklahoma City. But rowing against the best high school talent in the country proved to be much more challenging.
"It is tough going from uncontested in the region to competition that doesn't yield," Gomez said.
The heat winners advanced to the semifinals, while Eastwick and Gomez had to regroup and row their way through the repechage to get to the semis. And they did just that, performing as well as they had all year long.
"They really didn't know what they were capable of until that point," said coach Leonard Anderson.
From the semis they qualified to compete in the Petite Finals and finished fifth. In their first trip to Youth Nationals the duo competed over three days in four 2,000-meter races.
"Competing at the national level for rowing has been my dream for a very long time and I was not disappointed," Eastwick said. "The competition was fierce and challenging. Hugo and I are very pleased to have done so well competing against the fastest boats in the nation. And it was a blast!"
The team has only been rowing together for a year. Eastwick, who has been rowing for four years, hasn't had a regular doubles partner, while Gomez only started rowing a year ago.
"The water was awesome (at nationals)," Gomez said. "We were as prepared as we could be without any prior national's experience. I'm ready to go back these next two years and win."
Anderson is encouraging that goal.
"When I tell Hugo he can do anything anyone else can do he knows it takes more than just desire, it takes a lot of dedicated work," he said.
Eastwick plans to continue rowing in college at Norwich University.
Several senior rowers from RCTW have signed college scholarships. Tara Dalton signed with Duke, while Marjorie Ferrone will join the rowing crew at the U.S. Naval Academy. Mark Racciopi (LSU) and Paris Rosman (Lone Star College) look to continue the sport as well.
The rowing club is gearing up for the next big event, which is The Woodlands Slay The Dragon Regatta on Saturday, Oct. 16, on Lake Woodlands. Registration is open until Oct. 8. The event covers a 4,000-meter course with divisions in singles, doubles and quads in the categories of masters, juniors, novice and recreational.
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