Navesink River rowers shined at youth national championships

first_imgNavesink River Rowing (NRR) proudly held its own during the USRowing Youth National Championships that were held June in Sarasota, Florida.It was at this prestigious event where six of the group’s scholastic scullers battled against the best talent in the country.Senior Erik Bovino of Brielle and junior Tommy Johnston of Fair Haven earned first place in their final heat of the Men’s Youth Double Sculls event June 14. The pair placed 13th overall for the top finish NRR has ever posted. Junior Max Kelly of Red Bank and senior Neil Hughes of Oceanport also competed in Florida.Senior Emma Miller of Rumson and junior Emily Unsinn of Fair Haven placed as high as fourth in their two championship heats.The three boats qualified for the national event by medaling in the USRowing Mid-Atlantic Youth Championships, which was held in West Windsor. It was the best showing in the history of NRR’s Competitive Youth Crew program. The rowers were rightfully proud to see their hard work pay off.“The season had ended, so it was just the six of us training. It was a different environment. We were all really motivated and focused on the same goal,” said Miller, a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate. “We worked so hard. It feels great.”Bovino’s boat qualified for nationals last year. But they chose not to attend, unsure whether they could be competitive against more seasoned rowers. This year was a different story. The U.S. championships were on the agenda since last winter.“We thought, ‘Yeah, we’re going to nationals this year,’ ” Bovino said.Head coach Ian Bamberger was impressed with the way his rowers performed during the mid-Atlantic event. NRR brought home gold, silver and bronze medals.“NRR youth rowers have had an amazing [season],” Bamberger said. “Qualifying three doubles for nationals is an amazing feat.”Bovino and Johnston locked up a gold medal by outpacing their nearest competitor by 11 seconds in the final heat. Kelly and Hughes emerged as the bronze medal winners in a close fight for third place. Miller and Unsinn placed second in their division.Miller said Bamberger had mentioned in passing that she should partner with Unsinn and train for nationals this year.“The Northeast is such a competitive area for rowing. We didn’t know how feasible it was to go to nationals, but we were doing well in head-to-heads,” Miller said.Of course, it all worked out in the end.Now Miller is preparing for Dartmouth College, where she will continue her rowing career. Dartmouth’s program installed a new head coach, Linda Muri, last season. As one of the first rowers recruited by Muri, Miller is happy to join the program.“[Muri] is stepping up the program. I feel like I’m part of a team that’s being built,” Miller added.Bovino, who will attend Williams College in Massachusetts this fall, believes he is ready for NCAA events. The Ranney School graduate has participated in high school performance camps and continues individual training.“Nationals were a valuable experience for college. You have to be really perfect on the course,” Bovino said. By MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent last_img

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