Tallahassee, Fla. – For Capital City Rowing, today it’s Lake Hall, but this weekend, June 7th through the 9th, it’ll be Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the US Rowing Youth National Championships. CCR qualified two boats for Nationals: The men’s eight and the women’s four.
The women also went to Nationals last year, and finished in 12th place.
“You didn’t really think we were gonna make it to Nationals,” says Hailey Townsend. “[When we qualified], It was like, oh my gosh, we’re here. I got really teary, and it was a really good feeling.”
“Watching it come together over the last two months in this crew’s been pretty special,” says CCR women’s coach Brett Tillotson. “It’s gelling at the right time.”
For the men, it’ll be their first trip to Nationals.
“The boat I’m with right now is incredible,” says Grayson Manning. “To be able to take this boat to Nationals with these guys is a dream come true.”
Capital City Rowing takes athletes from many different high schools in the area and puts them all together under one name. The training is similar to other prep sports, and could even lead to opportunities beyond the high school level.
One member of the women’s four, senior Karla McDaniel, has signed a scholarship to row at the University of Michigan.
“I was so excited, it was like, ‘Oh, my first email from a college,’” she remembers. “Then you meet a bunch of awesome people, you have a lot of great experiences. It was definitely an exciting process.”
“Our freshman has been invited to the Junior National Team,” says men’s coach Danny Gwynn-Shapiro. “Beyond the high school level, there’s a ton of opportunities to row.
Still, there’s just one opportunity on the minds of Capital City Rowing this weekend.
“We’re the fastest boat I’ve ever been in,” says Manning. “I know that. I think we have massive untapped potential.”
“We just want to go see what we can do,” says Townsend, “how much we’ve improved and see how we do against the crews we raced at Nationals last year and Regionals a month ago.