By James H. Rogers
Oak Ridge’s Sarah Kate Rogers has earned an invitation to compete in the USRowing Youth National Championships by virtue of her first-place finish in the women’s youth sculling singles (WY1x) at the USRowing Southeast Youth Championships earlier this month. Competing against other young women from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, she swept through the heats and won the 2,000-meter final in a time of 8:26.257, more than eight seconds ahead of any other sculler.
At next month’s national championship, which is from June 12-14 in Bradenton, Florida, Rogers will compete against as many as 27 other scullers through both heats and repechage for a coveted spot in the grand finals.
“The competition is incredibly tough,” Rogers said of the national event. “We all train and work as hard as we can to get to this point, and leave nothing on race day.”
Her competitors qualify from 11 separate national regions, and represent powerhouse rowing programs from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Rogers is unique in this regard, rowing as an unaffiliated rower under the watchful eyes of her coaching team, Shannon Moore and Marc DeRose.
“Sarah Kate is a joy to coach,” DeRose said. “She brings an incredible focus to practice each day, and you can see the results on the water, in terms of her efficiency and boat speed.”
Rogers also successfully represented Oak Ridge Rowing Association’s Junior Atomic Rowing program at the USRowing Youth National Championships in both 2013 and 2014 as a member of Atomic’s Women’s Youth 4+. That experience will prove invaluable as she prepares for this year’s sculling event.
Rogers explained: “That first trip to nationals was amazing. It gives you an insatiable need to go back, and to get faster and faster every time.”
That thirst for competition will suit her well at next month’s national championship and in life.
Rogers will be joined in Bradenton by two Atomic Rowing athletes, Sara Zetterberg and Kimberly Cady, who qualified for nationals with their strong performance, medaling in the Southeast Regionals in the women’s youth pair (2-). The three are the closest of friends.
“I am so happy for Sara and Kim!” Rogers said. “They earned that spot with a great row, and I cannot wait to see them at nationals.”
Sarah Kate Rogers is an honors student at Oak Ridge High School, a member of the Symphony Band, and a three-year letterman on the ORHS Wildcats varsity swim team.