ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- United States crews brought home a total of nine medals from St. Catharines at the conclusion of the 2015 Pan American Games. Lightweight women’s single sculler, Mary Jones, battled a stiff headwind to win gold, highlighting competition Wednesday.
Vesper Boat Club’s Jones (Huntsville, Ala.), who took seventh at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls, was in third at the halfway mark, but moved into first with 500-meters to the finish buoys.
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“I was a little slow off the line, but worked my way through the field,” said Jones. “Starting at the island, where the team tents were, I could hear people yelling my name. The final sprint at the grandstand was the last bit I needed to get to the line.
Jones won gold in 8:49.19, followed by Brazil’s Fabiana Beltrame in 8:54.36 for silver and Argentina’s Lucia Palermo in 9:01.16 for the bronze medal.
“This feels amazing, really amazing. The strong headwind today made the race really challenging. We got an extra-long race because of it. I just kept telling myself to go with it, get that gold medal.”
The U.S. lightweight men’s four of Matthew O'Donoghue (Bryn Mawr, Pa.), Andrew Weiland (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Peter Gibson (Belmont, Mass.) and Robin Prendes (Miami, Fla.) took silver. Canada led by just over a second at the 1,500-meter mark and sprinted home in a 6:42.40. The U.S. crew recorded a 6:46.56, with Chile in 6:47.89 for bronze.
“It was really tough conditions,” said Prendes. “We never really got into a rhythm, but we tried our best.”
U.S. women’s double sculls silver medalists Nicole Ritchie (Dummerston, Vt.) and Lindsay Meyer (Seattle, Wash.) of Vesper Boat Club joined lightweight double bronze-medalists Victoria Burke (Redding, Conn.) and Sarah Giancola (Buffalo, N.Y.) of GMS Rowing in the women’s quadruple sculls and also won the silver medal.
“It was awesome,” said Giancola. “This race was particularly fun. In the headwind, we just felt super strong and ready to go for it. We just fought little by little the whole way. It was a great race.
The U.S. and Argentina exchanged the silver medal position coming down the course, but the U.S. crossed ahead in a 7:16.26 to Argentina’s 7:18.09. Canada won the gold medal in 7:07.63.
“This is another step in the process. I think the next step is Olympic Trials in April. This is just great progress and a really good experience for all of us.”
In the last race of the day, the U.S. men’s eight of coxswain Sam Ojserkis (Linwood, N.J.), Keane Johnson (Palo Alto, Calif.), Nareg Guregian (North Hills, Calif.), Kyle Peabody (LaGrange, N.Y.), David Eick (Raleigh, N.C.), Erick Winstead (Fairfield, Conn.), Taylor Brown (Winter Park, Fla.), Brendan Harrington (Garden City, N.Y.) and Matthew Mahon (St. Louis, Mo.) sprinted to a bronze medal.
The Canadians got an early lead around the 250-meter mark, and led the rest of the way, winning gold in a 6:07.01. Argentina finished second for the silver medal in 6:10.08, with the U.S. third in 6:12.64.
“It was pretty much us, Argentina and Cuba, pretty close to each other,” said Guregian. “We were fighting with Argentina through the middle thousand. I think they took an early sprint, and then they got up on us. The Cubans started moving, and once we raised our rate, we walked away from them.
“It was an honor to race here. It’s pretty cool. Every time you race for the U.S., it’s serious business. It’s always fun to race, and racing for the U.S. is an extra perk.”
Yohann Rigogne (Besançon, France) finished fourth in the final of the men’s single sculls, posting an 8:02.40. Cuba’s Angel Fournier was first off the line, gaining two seconds on the field by the 500-meter mark. He sprinted through for gold in a 7:51.39. The London Olympic finalist won gold in the men’s double Monday and silver in the men’s quad Tuesday. Canada’s Rob Gibson took silver in 7:57.94. Rigogne was in third crossing the 1,500-meter mark, but Argentina’s Brian Rosso sprinted back through for the bronze medal in 8:01.38.
In addition to the four medals on Wednesday, the United States won five medals in the first two days of finals including gold in the women's pair (Emily Huelskamp, Molly Bruggeman), silver in the women's single (Katherine McFetridge), silver in the women's double (Nicole Ritchie, Lindsay Meyer), silver in the lightweight men's double (Colin Ethridge, Austin Meyer) and bronze in the lightweight women's double (Victoria Burke, Sarah Giancola).