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Historic Performance by USA at U23 World Championships

UW’s Callahan Coached USA M8+ Wins; 6/9 Athletes from UW

It was a record-breaking, gold medal summer on the water for the USA — and the University of Washington — at the Under 23 World Championships in Poznan, Poland in July. The United States won the M4+, W4+, WL2-, W2-, and M8+, (the highest gold medal total for the USA in history), with 14 Washington athletes—representing four different countries — standing on the medal stand (also a record).

“These US athletes really came here to compete,” said Michael Callahan, head coach of the USA men’s sweep squad. “But also, the performance by our Husky men and women… it is so gratifying to see our system of developing world-class rowers at Washington translate to this kind of success on the world stage.”

Callahan, with assistant coaches Sergio Espinoza and Carlos Dinares, ran the USA men’s team selection camp out of Conibear Shellhouse beginning in late June. While assistant coach Sam Dommer took a men’s team to Henley, and Yaz Farooq led the women’s squad there, Callahan stayed in Seattle to run the camp and select the US team. That selection led to 18 men forming the USA M8+, M4+, and M4, and traveling to Europe together. The final result: the M4+ and the M8+ won gold, and the M4narrowly missed out on the bronze to finish fourth.

“It’s a meritocracy system,” said Callahan on the selection process. “We put all of the guys through a rigorous development system, and I think we showed that training in Seattle works. It validated our philosophy and process. Then to see it all come together in Poznan… I just could not be happier for these athletes.”

The story, for Washington fans, gets even better: In the USA men’s eight, six were Huskies: Rielly Milne (coxswain), Andrew Gaard (stroke), Sam Halbert (6), Madison Molitor (5), Arne Landboe (4), and Chris Carlson (3). Three grew up here in Washington: Sam rowed at Sammamish, Arne at Greenlake, and Madison is a walk-on (swam and ran XC) from Moses Lake.

To top it off, the men’s eight set a new U23 World Championship record in an unbelievable 5:22.48.

Huskies Win Record 14 Medals

Altogether, UW athletes won 14 medals (out of 19 UW athletes competing), including another World Champion, Anna Thornton, in the British W2X who also set a U23 record, the largest total the UW has won at the U23 Worlds. In addition, three of our UW women (also all from the state of Washington) anchored the stern of the USA W8+ that brought home the bronze: Brooke Pierson (Oak Harbor, walk-on) stroke; Elise Beuke (Sequim) 7; and Marlee Blue (Seattle) 6.

“This kind of local athlete development is not done anywhere else in the nation at this level,” said Washington women’s head rowing coach Yaz Farooq. “For this many rowers from Washington state to be competing — and winning — world championship medals, is really a testament to the special culture and community that is Washington Rowing.”

The community support did not end there. The USA men’s eight rowed to victory in the brand new Chuck Holtz III, a gift of Washington Rowing Stewards Jon and Judy Runstad, which Callahan had delivered to Poznan before it shipped to Seattle. Named after the legendary Husky rower (Holtz also set a record internationally while rowing for the USA in the 60s), the shell now comes home to Washington, with the rarest of chevrons on the bow: World Champion.

“The U23s are the gateway to the Olympics,” Callahan noted. “We want the USA to have success in the Olympics, and the U23’s are one step away.” Callahan continued, “We are very grateful for the commitment from the University of Washington, the Rowing Stewards, our staff, and the Seattle rowing community who supported the athletes while they trained here in Seattle. It is the way amateur athletics can and should work. We don’t do this alone, and our community stepped up in a big way.”

Washington Rowers at the Under-23 Worlds  

Women’s Double Sculls (BW2x)
Anna Thornton ’19, GB – Gold medal
Valentina Iseppi ’20, ITA – Bronze medal
Sofia Asoumanaki ’21, GRE – Finished 4th in A final

Men’s Eight (BM8+)
Rielly Milne ’18, Chris Carlson ’19, Andrew Gaard ’19, Samuel Halbert ’20, Arne Landboe ’18, Madison Molitor ’19, USA – Gold medal
Harvey Kay ’20, GB – Silver medal
Gert-Jan van Doorn ’21, NED – Finished 6th in A final

Women’s Eight (BW8+)
Lisa Goossens ’22, NED – Silver medal
Elise Beuke ’19, Marlee Blue ’19, Brooke Pierson ’18, USA – Bronze medal

Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BLM4x)
Chase Deitner ’21, USA – Bronze medal

Men’s Four (BM4-)
Elijah Maesner ’19, USA – Finished 4th in A final

Men’s Single Sculls (BM1x)
Ben Davison ’19, USA – Finished 4th in A final

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BM4x)
Nick Everett ’21, CAN – Finished first in C final