By Katrina Craycroft
Dallas United Crew (DUC) added seven regional titles, including those of Rowing’s fastest events — the Girls and Boys Eights — to its legacy. Held May 7 and 8, the Central Youth Championship is one of seven regional qualifiers for USRowing’s National Youth Championship to be held in Sarasota, Fla. June 11-14.
As nearly eight hundred athletes representing 24 clubs from Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas gathered in the OKC Boathouse District, the expected racing format was time trials (tandem starts for the best time) on Saturday, in which the top six crews would qualify to compete in head-to-head finals across the two-thousand-meter course.
The weather did not cooperate. Winds picked up Saturday afternoon, gaining strength overnight with gusts between 25 and 35 mph on Sunday. Such conditions are unsafe, especially for crews in windward lanes. By mid-morning, officials canceled the finals, and Saturday’s time trials would now decide the winners. DUC’s coaches prepared their crews and race strategies with Sunday’s forecast and its likely impact in mind.
Four-time defending champions in the Eights the DUC Varsity Girls knew they faced a challenge at regionals. Having won prior matchups, Austin’s Texas Rowing Center (TRC), was seeded first in the Girls Varsity Eights, ahead of DUC. Despite a slower lane assignment, the DUC girls surpassed expectations, laying down a one-second faster time than TRC and claiming their fifth consecutive title. DUC’s Varsity Four, powered by three of four oarswomen from DUC’s 2021 Youth Nationals top-ten crew, bested the field by a whopping 20 seconds — the equivalent of seven boat-lengths.
This year saw the DUC Varsity Boys return to the top of the podium in the Eights. They turned the tide with a blazing 5:49 down the course, besting the field by a definitive six seconds. DUC’s Under Seventeen (U17) Boys, having placed in the top ten at Youth Nationals in 2021, crushed the field, finishing ten seconds ahead of the second-place crew.
DUC, the largest rowing team in North Texas with athletes hailing from 26 schools, showed the depth of its crews, taking gold in three additional events: The Boys Under Sixteen (U16) Eight, the Girls Under Fifteen (U15) Coxed-quad and the Boys U17 Eight for a momentous 51 individual gold medals. DUC earned silver medals in the Boys Second Varsity Eight, Girls U17 Eight, Boys U15 Coxed-quadruple and Girls U17 Four, adding 28 individual medals to the haul. Add 24 Bronze medals for the Boys Novice Eight, Girls Second Varsity Four and Girls Novice Eight, and DUC’s individual medal count astounds at 103.
“We are very proud of the 11 crews that qualified for the National Championships next month” reflects DUC Program Director and Head Coach Steve Perry. “This weekend produced the best DUC results in our 20-year history. I am so proud of our rowers, and I want to thank their parents and our partners at the City of Dallas for their dedication to these amazing kids and the sport of Rowing.