Gainesville Area Rowing (GAR) finished a Cinderella-like ending to their season in the U.S. Rowing Youth Championships at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota this past weekend.
GAR qualified three teams and one individual for the national championships and it marked the third most national qualifiers in GAR’s 20-year history. GAR’s membership includes Alachua County middle and high school students.
Leading the way for GAR was Andrew Furlow, a senior at Eastside High School. Furlow finished fourth at nationals last year and was seeking a top-three medal finish. This year, he entered the competition seeded No. 11 of the 30 rowers.
On Thursday, he finished with the fastest time in the time trial (6 minutes, 59.738 seconds), advancing to Friday’s semifinal.
In semifinal 1, he finished third with the fifth-fastest time (7:24.681) and advanced to the A final. In Sunday’s A final that featured the top six rowers in the nation, he went out with the leaders and battled for a top-three medal spot for 1,000 meters of the 2,000-meter race. In the last 250 meters, he briefly took over second place before finishing third overall with a lifetime best of 7:16.173—a five-second improvement over last year’s time.
Devan Godfrey of The Woodlands, Texas, won the event in a time of 7:11.876 after moving from fourth place at 500 meters and taking the lead at the halfway point. Henry LePage of Charlotte Youth, North Carolina, was second in a time of 7:13.979.
Furlow finished his career as the highest-decorated GAR youth athlete of all time and its first medalist in history.
In addition to his U.S. Rowing Youth Championship accomplishments, Furlow earned a silver medal in the two-person sculling with JJ Dubois at the U17/U15 National Championships and a bronze medal at the Summer Nationals in the single sculling in 2019. He will continue his career at Syracuse University in New York where he earned a rowing scholarship.
“Andrew has been a terrific athlete for years,” said Hugo Moon, third-year GAR head coach. “To cap off his time with GAR as a national medalist in 2022 is a fantastic achievement and great justification for all the hard work he’s dedicated to his personal rowing and to the club.”
The Women’s Youth 4 sweeping with coxswain team of Lily Spillane (Jr., Buchholz), Tessa Boudreaux (Jr., Buchholz), Hannah Grace Glover (Jr., Gainesville High), Madison Hintze (Sr., Florida Virtual School), and Caroline Pulliam, coxswain (So., Gainesville High) entered Thursday’s time trial qualifying race seeded No. 26 of the 27 teams.
In Thursday’s time trial qualifying race, they finished No. 16 to advance to the C Final. In Saturday’s C Final, the foursome improved once again finishing third in a time of 7:29.969. The time was a 26-second improvement over their fourth-place finish time of 7:55.431 at the Southeast Youth Championships on May 14 and earned them 15th place in the nation.
In their wake was the Asheville Youth Association of North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee, who had beaten them by seven seconds at the Southeast Youth Championships. St. Andrew’s Rowing (Boca Raton, Florida) was the only team from the Southeast Youth Championships to beat GAR at nationals.
The Men’s Youth 4 sculling team of Max Conde (Sr., Buchholz), Felipe Quintana (Sr., Santa Fe College Dual enrollment), Dakota Blackwelder (Jr., Gainesville High) and Shane Penley (Sr., Buchholz) earned a spot at nationals by petitioning U.S. Rowing after missing an automatic bid by one second at the Southeast Youth Championships on May 14.
In Thursday’s time trial qualifying races, GAR, seeded last out of 28 teams, finished 20th to advance to the C Final. In doing so, GAR beat Tri Star (Louisville, Tennessee) by a 0.1 second. TriStar was the team that had beaten GAR by one second at the Southeast Youth Championships, denying them an automatic bid to nationals.
On Saturday, their Cinderella run ended with an eighth-place finish in the C Final. Their time of 6:38.294 was an improvement of seven seconds over their fifth-place finish time of 7:45.166 at the Southeast Youth Championships and earned them 20th place in the nation.
The Men’s U16 4 sculling team of Nolan Doody (Fr., Buchholz), Miles Loyd (8th grade, Ft. Clarke Middle School), Max Burger (Fr., Trilogy), Caleb Altbuch (Fr., Buchholz), Drew Conner (Fr., P.K. Yonge) were seeded No. 15 of 18 teams in their division.
In Thursday’s time trial, they finished 16th with a time of 7:24.934 and advanced to the C final on Saturday.
In Saturday’s C Final, they finished fourth in a time of 7:32.175 earning them 16th place in the nation. Their time was an improvement of seven seconds over their 7:39.022 time at the Southeast Championships. They also beat Peachtree City, Georgia, by six seconds in the C Final. Peachtree City beat GAR by one place and five seconds at the Southeast Youth Championships.
GAR will hope to build on this year’s success this summer as it hosts youth learn-to-row camps for sixth to 12th graders beginning on June 13 that will last throughout the summer.
In the three years under Moon, GAR has increased the number of participants by 100% and increased the number of qualifiers for nationals. GAR also offers a master’s program for those out of high school. More information can be found at https://gainesvillearearowing.com/.