October 31, 2010

On the first day of racing at the 2010 World Rowing Championships, the weather became the bigger story. After only two events and five heats, racing was called off for the morning after the start of the first heat of the lightweight men’s double sculls.

One of the two events that got through the morning was the lightweight men’s pair. The U.S. duo of Oklahoma City athletes, Mike Nucci (Blue Bell, Pa.) and Evan Tsourtsoulas (Kastoria, Greece), who were facing New Zealand, France, Denmark, China and Switzerland, finished third.

Nucci and Tsourtsoulas moved into third at the start and stayed there for the length of the course. New Zealand won in a time of 6:33.25, followed by France in 6:36.48 and then the U.S. in 6:41.73. They will race again on Tuesday in the repechage, or second-chance race.

When racing resumed today, more OKC athletes were in action. Ryan Fox and the USA Lightweight Men's Four placed 2nd in Heat 3, successfully advancing the crew to Semi- Final A. Switzerland finished first in 5:57.31.

OKC's Ryan Monaghan and Deaglan McEachern also advanced to Semi-Final A of the Men's Pair event by placing 3rd in Heat 2 with a time of 6:37.20. New Zealand was first in 6:25.12, followed by Serbia in 6:35.32.

October 29, 2010

Preparing for the Podium: 2010 World Rowing Championships

Assistant OKCNHPC Coach Bryan Volpenhein Analyzes Team USA

With the arrival of more crews at Lake Karapiro, the relaxed, rowing camp-like atmosphere athletes have enjoyed will cease to exist. There’s only one day to go before the start of the 2010 World Rowing Championship, and the tension will ramp up as more than 800 athletes gather to compete.

It’s a scene Bryan Vopenhein is very familiar with. Just two years ago he was sitting stroke seat in the men’s eight. Today he’s leading athletes from the coaching launch. And to his highly trained eye, Team USA is looking pretty good.

“I think we’ll definitely improve from last year, as the team looks pretty solid across the board. But how crews look in practice is not always how they look when racing,” said Volpenhein. “For us, performing well in the heats will be critical – the better we do early the more confidence it will give us throughout the regatta.”

Volpenhein was named to Team USA’s coaching staff for the lightweight men’s pair, lightweight men’s straight four and lightweight men’s eight for this year’s event, which takes place later in the year than it normally would to take advantage of spring weather in the southern hemisphere.

“Our season has been longer than it usually is due to the date change for Worlds. We haven’t raced in awhile, but the team is doing well – they all seem in good spirits and are excited to race,” said Volpenhein.

Pre-race excitement is still fresh in Volpenhein’s mind, though this is his second appearance as part of the coaching staff for Worlds.

“Last year was harder on me for sure, seeing people race and being only one year out of it myself. This year I feel more like a coach. I guess there will always be part of me that wants to get out there. I would be worried if there wasn’t.

Embracing his role as coach, Volpenhein is focusing on his athletes and what he wants them to take from their experience at Worlds.

“I want them to get medals. But, I also want them to learn about themselves and push themselves to places they haven’t been before. They should come away from the racing with a better sense of what they need to improve to make the podium in London. That is the real goal.”

October 28, 2010

Guest Blogger: Justin Stangel with the latest from New Zealand

Well it doesn't feel like it but looking at my watch we have been here five days now. After taking off from LAX just before midnight on the 21st we arrived in Auckland on the morning of the 23rd. From there we took a bus to our hotel in Hamilton which is about 90 minutes south. The town is nice and is know as a urban farmland area because of all the farms and herds that surround the city. We haven't had time to fully explore the city but from what we have seen it have a nice down town area and the hotel that we are in is very good and has been catering to our needs and providing plenty of tasty food.

The rowing has been going well for all crews as well. The course is a 45 minute bus ride each way which makes it a little draining sometimes, but also allows plenty of time to read books and relax the mind and body. Lake Karapiro is located in the rolling hills of the Waikato region and has given us some gorgeous scenery that I can only describe as what it would be like entering in to Jurassic Park (You would think more Lord of the Rings, but that is more the South Island). While the course has been a bit bumpy with all the crews rowing around we have been able to get some good work done and keep up with our preparations for the competition starting next week. At the course most of the teams have finally shown up from camps around New Zealand and it is interesting hearing all the languages at the athlete restaurant where everyone eats lunch. Also the final construction has been going on with the massive grandstands looking to be almost complete and the surrounding tents starting to fill up.

There has been a good camaraderie within Team USA with lively conversations at meals and lots of cards and movies with fellow teammates. As we all strive to win a gold medal here next week we all realize that it is good to take time out to relax and enjoy each others company.

Thank you everyone back home for all your support, and there will be more to come in the next couple days.


October 27, 2010

OKC Athletes Victorious in Champ Four at Head of the Charles

5 crews comprised of Oklahoma City athletes competed in the 46th Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA October 23-24.

Evan Cassidy, Henry Cole, Andrew Melander, Stuart Sloan and coxswain, Michael Lehmann came out on top in the Men's Champshipship Four Event. The crew lead the field the entire race down the Charles river, finishing in 15:49.58. Cal-Berkeley placed second in a time of 15:55.51.

Ryan Shelton and Aaron Marcovy finished fourth place in the Men's Championship Double in a time of 18:02.22, ahead of teammates Martin Etem and Pat Close who placed 7th in a time of 18:12.39.

Meg George competed in the Championship Women's Single placing 11th (22:30.17).

The Men's 8+ of Marcus McElhenney, Grant James, Brandon Shald, Scott Morgan, Max Goff, Blaise Didier, Ross James, Martin Reshke and Christopher Defelice finished fourth in 14:05.27.

A Rising Star: Peszek Finds Success Through OKC Training Center

A year ago, he was erging on his own. Today, he’s sitting stroke in the men’s eight, set to represent the USA at the World Rowing Championships next week in New Zealand. Looking back, Tom Peszek says he thinks he could have set the bar higher when he started training at the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center (OKCNHPC) at the beginning of the year.

“When I started training in OKC my personal goals were initially to just break six minutes on the erg and get decent at rowing a single. I’ve accomplished both of those, and I’m thinking that I should have set my goals much higher,” he said.

Going to the Next Level
A member of the Under 23 national team in 2007, Peszek saw a posting on Row2k and applied for residency in Oklahoma City as a way to get back into the national team system.

“I raced in the eight at the U23 World Championships back in 2007. But the senior level of competition is a different animal altogether,” said Peszek. “All of the crews at this level are too experienced and too good to ever give up and just let you beat them – you have to earn every single inch against every single crew.”

Peszek had his first taste of senior level rowing this summer when he and his Oklahoma City teammates Justin Stangel, Ross James, and Grant James traveled to Lucerne, Switzerland, to row the men’s four at the World Cup III.

“To me, things first started to click when Justin Stangel and I had several rows together in the pair, with OKCNHPC Director and Head Coach John Parker working with us. John kept challenging us and making us prove that we were good enough to compete at the first USRowing National Selection Regatta, and Justin and I started to realize that we really could be competitive at the level.”

New Zealand Bound
Although the selection process occurred gradually enough that being named to the men’s eight was not immediately surprising, Peszek says he’d never have believed he would be in this position months ago.

“If you had told me back in February or March that this is where I would be, I would never have believed it. I am beyond excited to have the chance to row with seven of the very best rowers in the country sitting right behind me.

To be part of Team USA is an incredible honor and unlike anything I’ve experienced as an athlete. Not only that, but we’ve been preparing for competition with the best coaching possible, and training side-by-side with the best rowers in the country has been exciting each and every day. It’s an incredible experience.”

October 20, 2010

OKC Athletes Bound for Rowing World Championships

After less than a year as a training center, the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center is sending 11 athletes as part of Team USA to the Rowing World Championships, Oct. 30 –Nov. 7 in New Zealand. Here’s the outlook for our crews:

Competing in the men’s eight will be coxswain Ned DelGuercio, OKC resident athlete Tom Peszek, Jason Read, Charlie Cole, Jake Cornelius, Brett Newlin, Dan Walsh, Mark Murphy and David Banks. Read won gold in the eight at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, while Walsh won bronze in the eight at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Five members of last year’s world championships squad return to the eight lineup including DelGuercio, Cole, Cornelius, Newlin and Banks. Germany won gold at the Munich and Lucerne world cup stops, while Great Britain won gold in Bled and finished top three in the others. The Beijing gold-medalist Canadian men’s eight, coming off a fourth-place finish in Lucerne, also will be among the top competition.

The lightweight men’s eight, coming off a silver-medal finish at the 2009 World Rowing Championships, has coxswain Stephen Young, Jimmy Sopko, Matt Kochem, and Skip Dise along with OKC resident athletes Kenny McMahon, Matt Muffelman, Michael Kerrigan, Julian Bowling and Bob Duff competing. Five members of last year’s crew return to the lineup including Sopko, Kochem, McMahon, Dise and Muffelman. Young, a first-time national team member, will also cox the men’s pair with coxswain boat that includes Nareg Guregian and OKC resident Justin Stangel. Guregian won silver in the four at the 2009 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. The U.S. is the defending world champion in the event.

The men’s pair event features OKC resident athletes Ryan Monaghan and Deaglan McEachern, who earned their berth to the team with a win at the 2010 World Championships Trials. Monaghan is a first-time national team member, while McEachern finished ninth in the quadruple sculls at the 2007 World Rowing Championships. The duo will take on a tough field including defending world champion New Zealand, Greece, Serbia and Great Britain.

Rowing in the lightweight men’s pair is the OKC resident athlete duo of Michael Nucci Evan Tsourtsoulas. Nucci was a member of the 2009 Under 23 World Championships squad, finishing ninth in the lightweight quad. Kastoria, Greece-native Tsourtsoulas is a seven-time Greek national team member and is competing for the United States for the first time.

October 19, 2010

Tom Peszek and the USA Men's 8+

OKC resident - Tom Peszek, stroke of the Men's 8+, prepares for the 2010 World Rowing Championships during an afternoon practice at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. The team is just days away from departing for Lake Karapiro, New Zealand.

October 03, 2010

Final Spots on the 2010 National Team Decided

It took two tough races to sort things out but the final spots on the team that will represent the United States at the World Rowing Championships were decided yesterday morning on the last day of the 2010 World Championships Trials at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.

USRowing Training Center-Oklahoma City's Steve Young, Nareg Guregian and Justin Stangel forced a third final in the men's pair with coxswain by rowing through the team of Marcus McElhenney, Steve Kasprzyk and Troy Kepper in the final meters of the second final on Friday.

The trio of McElhenney, Kasprrzk, and Kepper wanted nothing to do with a repeat of that result and built a healthy, early open-water lead. But the team of Young, Guregian and Stangel refused to give in and closed a stroke at a time until they gained bow on stern going into the final 500 and then sprinted to the win by 0.18 seconds with a time of 7:02.936 to 7:03.132.

"We knew from the race before that we had the sprint if we needed it," Young said. "We started out a little farther down today than we had hoped, but I told them with 500 meters to go, I said 'you've got 500 meters to go and a length to go. If you want it, it's yours.' They definitely wanted it. It was a great finish."

October 01, 2010

8 More OKC Athlete's Named to 2010 US National Team

With wind and rain threatening to stop racing, nine crews earned the right to represent the United States at the 2010 World Rowing Championships at the World Championship Trials this morning on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.

Oklahoma City residents, Ryan Monaghan and Deaglan McEachern closed the door on teammates Grant and Ross James from the start to win the second final and earn the right to row at worlds in the men's pair with a winning time of 6:35.630.

Mike Nucci and OKC's Evan Tsourtsoulas won the second final of the lightweight men's pair by just about five seconds over Riverside Boat Club's Andrew Diebold and Greg McKallagat with a time of 6:49.025.

In addition to second finals in today's events, Friday's racing included the uncontested final in the lightweight men's eight.

The lightweight men's eight included coxswain Stephen Young, Jim Sopko, John 'Skip' Dise, Matt Kochem, with Oklahoma City's, Kenny McMahon, Michael Kerrigan, Julian Bowling, Robert Duff,and Matthew Muffelman.

In the men's pair with coxswain, USRowing Training Center - Oklahoma City's Steve Young, Nareg Guregian and Justin Stangel forced a third final by rowing through the team of Marcus McElhenney, Steve Kasprzyk and Troy Kepper in the final meters to win by a hair with a time of 7:08.481 over the New York Athletic Club/Penn AC boat's 7:08.747.

The two will face off for the final time in the best-of-three format tomorrow morning.

OKC National High Performance Center TV

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