PLOVDIV, Bulgaria – Sitting on the start line, only about a minute from their first race in the 2012 World Rowing Senior and Junior Championships, the five junior single scullers were getting in race mode.

For four of them, that meant stern faces, quick sideways glances at the guys next to them and deep breathing. That’s not the way Mink Graham was handling things.

The United States junior men’s single sculler was looking around, relaxed and being plain old neighborly. "Hey Ukraine," Mink called out to his left. "Good, luck." Then the 17-year-old first time national team athlete from New Canaan, Conn., decided to include the rest of the pack.

"Good, luck, guys," he said raising his hand in the air. "Good racing."

If Mink had gone off the line slowly, or botched his start, it might be said he was not focused. But that was certainly not the case as Mink, started sharp and finished third in his heat, easily qualifying for the tomorrow’s quarterfinal in his event.

While Germany won the heat in 7:07.88 and Tunisian came in second in 7:15.39, Mink finished third in 7:16.04 in a race in which the top four boats moved on.

"Usually with racing I’m pretty relaxed," Mink said. "Mainly because going into this race I was pretty nervous and before I was talking with Tunisia and we had a friendly conversation and that broke the tension right there.

"The one thing I found that helps me the most is my faith," he said. "I’m a pretty strong Christian and I know that no matter how I place, it’s all for the glory of God for me. So I just know I’m going to be happy. So I’m calm and that’s how I go into a race and that’s all that matters to me.

"I thought the race went pretty well," he added. "I was relaxed off the start. The Tunisian just blew off the line and so did Germany. After that, since it’s a heat, I wasn’t holding my absolute, one-hundred and fifty percent."  

Mink was one of nine crews that advanced today of the 14 U.S. crews that raced in Plovdiv, Bulgaria at the combined senior and junior world championships.
In the morning heats, the U.S. had a strong showing. In addition to Mink, the junior men’s double won their race, the junior women’s double moved on in second place, and the junior women’s single advanced in third. Not advancing from the heats was the junior men’s pair and the junior men’s eight.

In quarterfinal racing Andrew Campbell (New Canaan, Conn.) finished second in his race and advanced to tomorrow’s semifinal. Campbell finished in 7:14.96 behind Hungary’s Peter Galambos, who finished in 7:13.59.

Racing in the quarterfinals but not advancing was the junior men’s quadruple sculls.

In repechage, or second chance racing, the junior women’s pair won and advanced to the Saturday final, the junior men’s four advanced to tomorrow’s semifinal and Ursula Grobler (Pretoria, South Africa) advanced to the semifinal tomorrow in the lightweight women’s single sculls, finishing second in 7:58.04 to New Zealand’s Lucy Strack, who finished in 7:55.94.

Not advancing from the repechage was the lightweight men’s eight, which finished last and will now row in Sunday’s B final and the junior men’s four with coxswain.

The day started with a race for lanes in the junior women’s eight. The crew of coxswain Amanda Rutherford (Piedmont, Calif.), Eliza Spilsbury (Centerville, Mass.), Caroline Hart (Shrewsbury, Mass), Mia Croonquist (Vashon Island, Wash.), Sylvie Sallquist (Seattle, Wash.), Claire Collins (McLean, Va.), MacKenzie Bartz (Portland, Ore.), Carolina Radcliffe (Falls Church, Va.) and Joanna Mulvey (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) finished third in 6:36.09 in their six-boat event and will row in the final on Sunday. The U.S. held second place for the first 1000-meters but fell into third in the second half.

Romania finished first in 6:28.98 while Germany finished second in 6:31.70.

Following the eight, the U.S. contingent had a strong showing in the junior men’s and women’s double sculls.

The junior women’s double crew of Mackenzi Sherman (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Olivia MacLean (Lancaster, Mass.) rowed in the opening heat, jumped into first off the line and held it until the final 500-meters when they were caught and passed by France.

France finished in 7:22.72 and the U.S. finished in 7:26.12. They will now row in the semifinal Saturday.

In the junior men’s double sculls, Chase Buchholz (Norfolk, Mass.) and Richard Wagner (Providence, R.I.) have not lost a race since finishing second in the 2011 junior team trials and have notched victories in the 2011 Head of the Charles and the USRowing Youth National Championships.

They added another win to the list today.
The pair got off the line in first and stayed there finishing in 6:32.92. They held the third fastest time of the six heats. Germany, rowing in the third heat posted a 6:31.73 and China, rowing in the final heat, clocked a 6:32.76.

They row again tomorrow in the quarterfinals.

"There’s a huge difference here," Buchholz said. "Having boats overlap with you going into the fifteen hundred is a feeling we haven’t experienced in while and it brings out a gear in our racing that we don’t get to see in normal racing and it’s definitely a step up."

The U.S. has never medaled in the event and it is something the boys are keeping in mind. "We’ve been thinking about that for quite a while," Wagner said. "Looking at the times today we saw China, Poland and Germany had times really close to us and then everyone else was maybe five seconds to ten seconds back and that really excited us."

In the junior women’s single sculls, Nina Vascotto (Huntington, N.Y.) rowed in a tight pack of three boats behind Romania and the Czech Republic. Going into the final 500-meters, the U.S. was out of the four qualifying spots but sprinted from fifth place to third to finish in 8:00.97. Romania won in 7:52.10 and the Czech Republic rowed a 7:56.57.

Failing to advance from the heat was the junior men’s pair crew of Justin Murphy (Montclair, N.J.) and Nathaniel Goodman (Montclair, N.J.). Falling behind early, the U.S. finished fifth in their five-boat heat with a time of 7:07.91. Hungary was the single boat to advance to the semifinal, finishing in 6:56.18. They will row in the reps tomorrow.

In the junior men’s eight, the crew of coxswain Peter Overfield (Corte Madre, Calif.), Julian Goldman (Ross, Calif.), Francis Adelbert (St. Louis, Mo.), Harrison Van Andel (Long Beach, Calif.), Patrick Muto (Barrington, Ill.), Patrick Eble (Ft. Washington, Pa.), Gregory Davis (Daly City, Calif.), Peter Woolley (Tiburon, Calif.) and Albert Caputo (Riverside, Conn.) led for the first half, then were passed by Italy and Great Britain.

The U.S. finished in 5:40.17. Italy won in 5:35.93 and Great Britain was second in 5:39.57.

Following the heats there were repechage and quarterfinal races.

First up in the reps was the junior women’s pair of Kathryn Brown (Federal Way, Wash.) and Christine Cavallo (Windermere, Fla.). Having just missed advancing to the final from the Wednesday heat, the pair wasted no time today, rowing in first from start to finish and finishing in 7:34.14. Germany was second in 7:39.26.

In the junior men’s four, the crew of Ryan Hails (Osprey, Fla.), Ben Chuter (Portola Valley, Calif.), Allen Reitz (Long Beach, Calif.) and John Chuter (Portola Valley, Calif.) advanced to their semifinal after finishing second. Jumping into the lead from the start, the U.S. was passed by France in the last 500-meters and finished in 6:24.36. France rowed a 6:23.62.

Unable to advance from their rep was the junior men’s four with coxswain crew of coxswain Jake Mendelson (Jacksonville, Fla.), Bradley Plunkett (Darien, Conn.), Samuel Helms (Snohomish, Wash.), Eli Brown (Dallas, Texas).

After falling into third place off the line, the U.S. chased Ukraine and Serbia the length of the course, but finished out of the final in third in a time of 6:31.64. Serbia advanced first in 6:24.45 and Ukraine was second in 6:27.04.

In the junior men’s quadruple sculls, Chris Wales (Seattle, Wash.), Ezra Carlson (Orleans, Calif.), Jacob Coert (Filmore, Calif.) and Alex Buck (Greenwich, Con.) finished fourth and out of advancing position in their rep. Germany won the heat in 5:58.08. The U.S. finished in 6:01.80.

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