Elite rowing competition comes to Lake Monticello

By Duncan Nixon

It’s spring, the air is warming, the trees are in bloom and the collegiate women are rowing at Lake Monticello.

In the only Division 1 sports event held in Fluvanna County, the University of Virginia (U.Va.) women’s rowing team will host the ACC – Big Ten rowing competition Saturday (April 6). Four visiting rowing squads will be on hand to test their prowess over the Lake Monticello course.

U.Va. rowing Coach Kevin Sauer, the only rowing coach the U.Va. women have ever had, said that the schedule calls for U.Va. to row against the University of Michigan in the 9-11 a.m. session, and then compete against Ohio State in the 12-2 p.m. session.

Teams from Syracuse and Duke will also be on hand, but U.Va. will not compete against either of these squads. In the morning session, Ohio State, Duke and Syracuse will compete against each other, while in the afternoon Michigan, Duke and Syracuse will row against each other. Teams will practice at the Lake Friday (April 5).

This is clearly an elite college rowing competition as U.Va., Ohio State and Michigan are all ranked in the top 10 in the country. An early season online ranking has U.Va. at number 7, Michigan at number 9 and Ohio State at number 5.

Most spectators view the competition from the main beach, which is where most of the activity takes place. All the teams put their boats in the water there with the coxswains barking out their orders to the rowers. Visiting parents and rowing fans tend to set up their picnics there. Pool construction may be a little constrictive this year, but the diehard fans will certainly be there in force as usual. The finish line for the races is close to the marina, so that is also a popular viewing location.

The U.Va. rowing team has women from all over the country and from overseas. It also has a local rower. Sophie Kershner of Fluvanna County is on the roster, although she did not row in high school. There are high school rowing programs in some parts of the country, but rowing is very definitely not a sport on the Fluvanna County High School sports calendar.

Sauer said, however, that his program is always looking for young women who were outstanding athletes in high school, who could be developed into high quality rowers. Kershner, who is now a sophomore at U.Va., was a standout in softball, volleyball and swimming for the Flying Flucos. Her U.Va. bio also notes that Kershner was student body president at Fluvanna and the salutatorian of her graduating class.

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