The Upper Natoma Rowing Club is only in its second year of existence and is already producing medal-winning athletes.
Over the weekend of June 8-10, two local boats were sent to Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the US Youth Rowing Nationals. Savannah Eldridge, a graduate of Vista del Lago High, along with her teammate Clara Nowinski from St. Francis, represented in the women’s pair while Haley York, Megan Musilli, Paige Watson, Ali Vogelsang and Jenny Jacobs occupied the women’s lightweight 4-plus group.
The five-person lightweight team earned a silver medal with a time of seven minutes and 45.19 seconds while Eldridge and Nowinski’s time of 7:58.43 was good enough for the bronze across Melton Hill Lake.
“This just goes to show that hard work is rewarded,” said UNRC coach Chris Manibusen. “It’s exciting to see these kids go there and come back with medals. We feel like we’re a program to watch out for. People know who we are now.”
Manibusen said that it’s a huge deal for the rowing club to have accomplished so much in such a short period of time with the limited resources they have.
“It really puts things into perspective,” he said. “Usually, it’s the clubs with the most money that get the wins. Not to say that they don’t work hard, but to accomplish what we have in just two years time with no facility really shows that our hard work is paying off.”
The bronze-medal winning tandem of Eldridge and Nowinski will both be heading to UC Berkeley in the fall. Musilli and Jacobs (St. Francis) will be rowing for the Naval Academy and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, respectively. Watson (Rio Americano) is Stanford-bound while Vogelsang and York are entering their senior years at St. Francis and Bella Vista, respectively.