Iconic, inspiring, unpredictable - through the years, our Falcon athletes have kept us coming back to witness the thrill of competition again and again. Our series "Great moments in Falcon sports history" relives the moments that have helped shape the Peddie athletics legacy. The 2009 U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships was one of those moments, with Peddie Girls' Rowing team claiming gold for the third time in four years.
In the girls' four with coxswain, stroke Shelley Pearson '09, three seat Reva Geier '09, two seat Erica Lockard '09, sophomore bow Sarah Libfraind '11 and coxswain Emily Boudreau '09 powered to a 9.49 second victory in the grand final at the 2009 U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships at Harsha Lake in Batavia, Ohio. Peddie clocked a 7:24:98 over the 2,000-meter course, while Mercer Junior Rowing Club, its neighbor at the Finn M. W. Caspersen Rowing Center on Mercer Lake, claimed second place in 7:34:47. Winsor School (MA) finished third in a 7:34:83. This was the third victory in four years for the Falcon cox four.
Hosted by the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club, the event featured more than 1,500 participants from 140 programs competing for national titles in 18 events. Peddie girls took home the gold at nationals in 2006 and 2007 and collected the silver in June, 2008. Club and scholastic crews qualify for this event by placing in one of the 18 Youth National Championship events.
Coach Barb Grudt gave her thoughts about the event that weekend. "I was unbelievably impressed with how the girls conducted themselves at Youth Nationals. They had the fastest qualifying time rowing easily in their heat. Coming into the final, it was theirs to lose. Shelley (Pearson) took the boat off the line at 41 strokes (per minute), settled to a 36, and had to be called down by Emily (Boudreau) in spite of how good the boat apparently felt. That boat hasn't seen anything above a 36 or 37 all year. They moved out and let the rest of the field fought it out for second through fifth. Crossing the line 9.5 seconds ahead of the field was very, very impressive. They just looked great. And the exciting thing is that our boathouse neighbors, MJRC, sprinted at the end to finish second."
Footnote: The girls and coach Grudt had little time to savor the victory as they caught a flight to London to compete at the renowned Henley Royal Regatta. Jen Lombardo '09 and Kumari Lewis '11 joined the team for the Henley. The girls (Pearson, Geier, Lockard, Libfraind, Boudreau) entered the finals heavily favored with the fastest qualifying time by 10 seconds while posting a course record-time in the semifinals on a 1,500-meter stretch of the River Thames. Unfortunately, Geier's shoulder gave way on the first stroke and the team rallied to get back to the leader's stern, but couldn't make much more headway than that and settled for second.