Menlo-Atherton High senior Katie Kelly and recent Woodside grad Makayla Karr-Warner rowed off with a national title at the USRowing Youth National Championships this past weekend in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The two, who compete for NorCal Rowers, won the Lightweight Women's Doubles.
Racing started on Friday and continued Saturday and Sunday in high heat and humidity.
"The girls were in the last of four heats, competing against 19 other lightweight doubles," related NorCal coach Allison Frykman. "The two had a bit rough start off the line due to nerves and were down about a boat length to contender GMS Rowing after the start and through the first 1,000-meters. In the third 500 meters, Makayla called a move and the two brought up the rate and walked through GMS. They continued to hold their lead and won their heat, posting the fastest time of all four heats by eight seconds. Their win allowed them to advance directly to the semifinals.
On Saturday afternoon, Kelley and Karr-Warner battled the heat and humidity to win another race.
"It was a hard-fought battle against contenders Essex and Stanford Junior Crew, as we were in the faster of the two semifinals," Frykman said. "The girls were able to hold on to their lead, which they earned right off the line, despite fast walking crews through the final sprint."
On Sunday, "The girls were up against their toughest competition yet -- the fastest six crews in the country! Katie and Makayla were calm as we waited patiently for the fog to clear the course, with determination in their hearts," Frykman said. "The girls were off the line in the middle of the pack. At the beginning of the second 500 meters, Katie called a focus, the rate came up, and the girls walked right through Seattle Rowing Center, Essex, and Stanford Juniors. They opened up a substantial lead right away, and continued to walk all the way down the course.
"Their final time was four seconds faster than second place! It was an amazing experience to watch the beautiful rowing -- the strength and the skill -- of these two as they crossed the line first."
Elsewhere in the meet, which attracted hundreds of rowers from around the nation:
Sacred Heart Prep grad Danni Struck raced two of her USRowing National Team teammates (from last summer) for the title of fastest female junior sculler in the nation. Struck came away with the bronze medal in the women's single.
In less than an hour, she did something rarely done at national championship regatta when she won a second bronze medal in a second event -- the open weight double with Stanford Junior Crew teammate Victoria Wallace.
Struck was just one of five double medalists out of the 3,000 racers during the weekend. She'll row for Cal this coming school season while on scholarship.