By Jim Rogers
Oak Ridge’s Sarah Kate Rogers continued her memorable run to USRowing’s 2015 Youth Nationals, overcoming windy course conditions and formidable talent to reach the Grand Final of the Women’s Youth sculling singles (WY1x). The Youth Nationals were held June 12-14, in Bradenton, Florida.
Rogers qualified for the Youth Nationals as a result of her victory in the USRowing Southeastern Regionals in May.
Her path to the National Grand Finals was not without significant drama. In her opening heat, she tangled with lane buoys early in the race, and despite a ferocious comeback, finished a narrow fourth. This forced her to the repechage, a last chance to qualify for the semifinals. She responded to that challenge, moving through her opponents to grab the lead at the halfway point and holding off a furious challenge from Rachel Pierce of South Jersey Rowing Club. On short rest, Rogers then out-sprinted Shelby Johnson of Capital Rowing Club in the semifinal to finish second and qualify for the Grand Final.
The WY1x Grand Final matched the top six athletes in a final 2,000-meter race, relegating the rest of the field to the Petite and C Finals. In the Grand Final, Rogers, an unaffiliated rower training on the waters of Melton Hill Reservoir, faced elite athletes from storied programs in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the Northeast corridor. Despite having to qualify through repechage and semifinals the day before, Rogers matched the intensity of the start and first 500 meters of the race, maintaining contact with the leaders throughout, but eventually finishing sixth.
Rogers was pragmatic about the result.
“Privately, my goal coming in to Nationals was to scratch my way in to the semifinals, and compete in the Petite Final. To cross that (semifinal) finish line and know that I had qualified for the Grand Final was an unbelievable feeling.”
Rogers is coached by the Oak Ridge-based team of Marc DeRose and Shannon Moore.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of Sarah Kate’s effort this weekend” DeRose said. “She has worked tirelessly to get to this point, and she seized the opportunity with a series of great performances.
“Her ability to regroup after that bad first race, focus on the task at hand, and consistently execute is a real testament to her determination.”
After letting the results of her performance sink in, Rogers offered a refreshing perspective on her performance during the three-day event.
“Today, I am the sixth fastest sculler in the nation, and that is really cool,” she said. “Tomorrow, I start over.”
Rogers will continue training this summer, rowing with athletes from all over the nation in the Southeastern Juniors High Performance Camp, and competing in multiple rowing disciplines at the USRowing Club National Championships July 15-19, 2015 in Bethel, Ohio.
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.
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