Seven months after she first picked up a paddle, Vancouver Lake Crew’s Kayla Yraceburu was the ninth fastest rower at the junior nationals.
Yraceburu placed third in the women’s youth single B final on Sunday on Melton Hill Lake at Oak Ridge, Tenn. The B final was the top consolation heat for her event at the U.S. Rowing Junior Nationals.
“It is still a little bit hard to wrap my head around,” Yraceburu said, describing her quick rise in a sport she first dove into in December as a way to keep in shape for competitive swimming.
Vancouver Lake Crew’s Sawyer Schultz and Sarah Wu teamed to place fourth in the C final of the women’s lightweight youth double.
This was the eighth time in its 10 years of existence that Vancouver Lake Crew has qualified boats for the junior nationals.
Nationals was only the second rowing serious competition for Yraceburu, who graduated last week from Camas High School and will row in college for Oklahoma City University.
She qualified for the junior nationals during the Pacific Northwest regionals last month — her first significant race.
Yraceburu, who never competed at a national-level swim meet, said she wasn’t nervous about competing at the rowing nationals.
“I went into it figuring I didn’t have that much to lose,” Yraceburu said. “Because I’m so new to this, if I fell out of the boat no one would have thought it was that big of a deal.”
Yraceburu overcame a poor start in her first race on Friday, finishing second in her qualifying heat by completing the 2,000-meter race in 8 minutes and 46 seconds and advancing to Saturday’s semifinals.
In the semifinals she finished fifth in her six-boat race with a time of 8:53. In Sunday’s B final, for the six semifinalists who did not advance to the championship race, Yraceburu placed third in 8:52.
The winning time in that race was 8:45. The championship race was won by a rower from Tampa Training Center in 8:23.
“On Sunday I felt like I did really well, but my time was only a second faster than I did on Saturday” which felt like a poor performance, she said.
“We’re real pleased with what the kids did,” Vancouver Lake Crew coach Alan Stewart said. “They all had a good time.”
Yraceburu said she enjoyed the friendly atmosphere at the rowing nationals. Her success at the nationals buoys her confidence heading to college, she added.
Schultz and Wu were less than two seconds behind the second-place boat in their C final of the women’s lightweight youth doubles. They finished their last race in 8:26.79.
On Friday, Schultz and Wu were fourth in their first qualifying heat (8:18.10), then third among four boats (8:16.02) in a second chance to advance to the semifinals.