Palo Alto High grad wins gold medal in U-23 rowing


The United States won a fourth consecutive gold medal in the women's eight and a silver medal in the men's eight on the Sunday to cap off the week at the 2015 World Rowing Under-23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

"There's no other feeling like this in the world," said women's eight coxswain Colette Lucas-Conwell, a Palo Alto High grad, just before collecting her first Under-23 gold medal.

Palo Alto's Colette-Lucas Conwell won a gold medal at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships in Bulgaria on Sunday. Photo courtesy of University of Virginia Athletics.
The U.S. crew of Lucas-Conwell, Kendall Chase, Georgia Ratcliff, Sarah Dougherty, Lizzy Youngling, Mia Croonquist, Alex Spaulding, Erin Reelick and Jessica Eiffert was down to Russia through the first half of the race, but made a decisive move at the 1,000-meter mark, taking one seat at a time to seal the victory.

"Off the start, we just wanted to be in the pack," said Lucas-Conwell. "We saw Russia; we were expecting Germany, but we'll take Russia. Around the 1k was our big move, and we just went. Everyone was so ready for it. We knew we had a good last 1k, that's our thing. It was unbelievable. When we saw we were that close to gold, everyone just bought into it and went."

The United States crossed the line in a 6:19.49 for a fourth consecutive gold medal at the Under-23 level, with Russia in 6:22.02 for silver, a first-ever medal in the event. Great Britain edged out Germany for the bronze with a time of 6:23.28.

Meanwhile, Stanford grad Kaess Smit ('15) earned a silver medal in the USA varsity eight.

Stanford men's rowing had two representatives with Team USA as Smit led the eight to a medal and rising sophomore Will Spencer placed sixth with the coxed four on Saturday.

Smit sat two seat for the U.S. eight. Team USA never led in the race as Germany controlled from start to finish. The U.S. took over second place in the second 500 and held on for the silver medal with a time of 5:36.49. The time was three seconds back of Germany and two seconds ahead of the bronze medalist Russia boat.

After the race Smit told USRowing: "I wish we had the gold, but it's motivation to keep working and stay hungry. We're all out here, and all we wanted to do was win. I love these guys, and it was a hell of a summer. I wouldn't be happier doing anything else."

The silver medal gave Smit three career medals at the U-23 Championships. He helped Team USA to a bronze medal in the eight last year in Varese, Italy. In 2013, he raced with the coxless four and claimed a bronze medal in Linz, Austria.

Spencer got his first taste of the U-23 World Championships. He helped the U.S. coxed four advance through the reps to the A Final on Saturday. The USA came in sixth overall with a time of 6:38.77.


Former Stanford All-American Nneka Ogwumike scored 10 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds to help the West team defeat the East, 117-112, in the WNBA All-Star Game in Uncasville, Conn.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Allison Frederick of US Rowing

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