Local athletes from Oklahoma City and surrounding areas came together this past weekend to compete at the USRowing Midwest Speed Order. The event consisted of a 6 kilometer erg test on Saturday that determined the starting order for a 4000 meter head race down the Oklahoma River on Sunday. A mix of National Team members and college athletes produced an exciting environment with Olympians cheering on college freshman at times.
Two time Olympian Greg Ruckman a solid had performance last weekend at the East Coast Speed Order finishing 25 seconds ahead of the field in the lightweight men's 6 K test. This week at the Midwest Speed Order, he elected to avoid the weigh in and compete in the open event. Greg Flood finished in first place for the lightweights in 19:54.2 ahead of second place Christian Klein who achieved a personal best time of 20:14.8. With two former lightweight Olympians rumored to have pulled 6K's on their own on Friday in the 19:55 to sub 20:10 range, the future looks promising for the lightweight four going into the 2013 season.
In the open and light women's group, Jen Forbes lead the field for much of the 6 K ahead of Kate Bertko. Forbes has been on the come back trail since returning from an injury which kept her from full time training for much of the summer. She ran out out of gas with 750 to go and was passed by Bertko who finished first in 22:07.2. Forbes pulled off a second place finish in a personal best time of 22:17.4. The next finisher was Michelle Sechser with the fastest time in the lightweight division in 22:30.8. Her 2012 US Lightweight Women's Quad teammate, Chelsea Smith, finished second in 22:58.3. Sechser and Smith both improved their personal records, as did several competitors from Oklahoma City University and the University of Tulsa. Watch for U of T lightweight women to do some damage this Spring racing in an new eight named the "Michelle Sechser '08".
On Sunday morning, after a beautiful Oklahoma sunrise, athletes lined up to race the 4000 meter head race portion of the speed order. In mostly flat conditions with a moderate cross wind, Peszek and Mike Gennaro pulled off the win in the open Men's Pair in 14:35.5. Christian Klein and Under 23 National team member Dan Kirrane finished first in the Lightweight Pair in 14:51.8.
OKCNHPC's Ryan Shelton finished first in the Open Men's single in 15:43.6 ahead of Ruckman (15:52.5).
Kate Bertko convincingly won the open women's single event, posting a 16:56.3. Jen Forbes made a big splash in her attempt to catch Bertko - literally. The increasing cross wind may have played a role in her failure to complete the 4 kilometer course as she flipped her boat just before the halfway mark. She'll look to avenge this result in the Spring at National Selection Regatta #1.
Sechser closed out a successful weekend with a first place finish in the lightweight women's single in 17:19.5 despite a few minor "failure to yield" obstacles in her path. Smith finished second in 17:56.5 just barely nipping 2011 U23 National Team member Kat Schiro who finished third in 17:56.8.
Full results from the USRowing Midwest Speed Order can be found HERE