On the road to rowing victory

The Miami Beach Rowing team is hungry.

With the Youth National Championships running Friday through Sunday in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Victor Tarrau said that is what sets his team apart.

“This is a group of dedicated athletes who really want to win,” said Tarrau, who will row at Purdue in the fall. “The winner of a race can be decided by inches. It all comes down to who wants it more.”

That dedication has not failed them yet.

The Miami Beach Rowing team is coming off its most successful year, qualifying for nationals in eight separate events. The team has qualified for more events than any other team from other regions.

“They refuse to settle,” said Kyle Loten, the women’s varsity coach. “That mentality has been absorbed by the entire team and it’s pushing them to do even better.”

Loten says it is that kind of toughness that separates rowing from other team sports.

Tough rowing

“Once you’re in that boat with your teammates, letting up is not an option,” said Loten, who rowed at Northeastern University. “You can’t go to the bench and make a change. If one person gives in that can cost you the race.”

But according to Gabie Martinez, the women’s team captain, attitude is the team’s strongest trait.

“I’m really proud of my girls,” said Martinez, who will row for Stanford in the fall. “They have a great, positive mindset and build off each other’s energy.”

Both Martinez and Tarrau have won multiple state titles and are making their third trip to nationals. Loten credits their success to their hard work and determination.

Less than a week away from the national regatta, Martinez, whose team qualified for the Championship with a time of 7:18 at the U.S. Southeast Regional Championship in May, said the team is still hard at work perfecting its technique.

“This year, we set the bar high,” Martinez said. “Every day we try to work a little bit harder so we can go even farther than before.”

‘Hunger’ games

As for the men …

“It’s a hunger,” said Tarrau, whose team also qualified for the Championship in May with a time of 6:45. “All our competitors will be around the same size so it will come down to who wants it more.

“We are ready to fight for that last inch.”

Said Loten: “Over the years, they have learned that they can write their own story. And their hard work and actions will determine the ending.”

Aside from what will happen in this weekend, Loten says that the sport has taught these rowers lessons that apply everywhere else in life.

“The biggest lesson they will learn is that they can’t measure their success by their placement in the regatta,” Loten said. “They have done everything they can to prepare themselves and that itself is a huge achievement.”

Teaching time

Both Martinez and Tarrau are appreciative for the lessons they have learned.

“Rowing has taught me how to be a leader,” Martinez said. “And my teammates taught me how to work together. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

“Rowers are a different kind of people,” Tarrau said. “The sense of discipline and teamwork is unmatched. It has made me the person I am today.”

Also expected to do well at the Championships this weekend are the Miami Rowing Club teams.

The team will be represented by Girls 8: Alex Zaldivar, Adriana Ocampo, Catalina Calvete, Raquel Olson, Marissa Williford, Cristina Navia, Briana Livingston, Catherine Roen and Sol Helou.

Boys 8: Brandt Roen, Nicholas Montalvo, Dominic Prego, Frankie Aguilar, Bernie Ramirez, JP Gutierrez, Luciano Mercenari, Leo Mercenari, and Jose Bared.

Boys 4: Maurice Ferre, Juan Avila, Danny Behar, Carlos Tornell and Marcie Vidaurri.

The Miami Beach Rowing teams are:

The rowers for the boys’ teams are — Men’s Lightweight 4+: Victor Tarrau, Federico Giustini, Chris Nistal, Andrew Horne and Emily Schwartz. Men’s Lightweight 2x: Lucas DiLena and Fernando Tavara. Men’s Varsity 2x: Danny Stein and Matteo Wiegerling. Men’s Varsity 1x: Max Ferguson.

The rowers for the girls’ teams are — 4x(quad) open: Gabie Martinez, Clara Meister, Veronika Stasaityte and Stefanie Keeler. 4+ (four) lightweight: Danielle Keeler, Sophie Lubarsky, Emilia Epstein, Isa Morcos and Erin Alexander.