SARASOTA — For only the fourth time in the more than the 25-year history of Gainesville Area Rowing, the club is sending three teams to the U.S. Rowing National Championships after capturing a gold medal and two silvers in the Southeast Regionals on Sunday at Nathan Benderson Park.

In addition, GAR won a bronze medal in a freshman singles race, an event that doesn’t qualify for nationals.

Overall, Gainesville is sending 10 rowers to the national championships in Sacramento, Calif., on June 8-9.

The GAR Women’s Youth Quad won the gold medal in a close race. The combination of Falynn Barnett (Eastside High), Cristina Lucas (Gainesville), Alexandra Popielarz (Buchholz) and Catherine Sarosi (Eastside) held off Sarasota Scullers by .227 seconds.

GAR won in 7:43.123 over Sarasota Scullers (7:43.350). Plant was third at 7:45.001. It was one of only four races on the day that were decided by less than a second out of 35 races overall.

The team had cruised through the time trials, winning by more than 12 seconds to take the top seed before surviving the tight final race.

“Our women cleaned up their technique since sculling states and it led to an increase in speed,” GAR coach Cory Conzemius said. “Their drive and focus the past couple of weeks to get faster led them to a 12-second win in the time trial and eventual gold.”

Like the Women’s Quad, the GAR Men’s Youth Quad took silver in a race decided by less than a second. The GAR team of Garrett Bauer (Buchholz), Evan Bell (Gainesville), Brett Pearson (Buchholz) and Alex Robertson (Eastside) came within less than a boat length of Atlanta Junior Rowing. GAR finished in 6:41.916 while Atlanta Junior Rowing posted a 6:40.918.

The one second of time was roughly a quarter of a boat length over the 2,000-meter race. It was the closest any team has come to beating a dominant Atlanta Junior Rowing team all season.

The GAR Women’s Youth Lightweight Double of Kailey Croft (Buchholz) and Madison Witherington (Eastside) took second in 8:49.027. GAR finished behind First Coast of Jacksonville (8:34.270) and ahead of Charlotte Youth Rowing (8:52.11).

This is the second year in a rowing that Croft and Witherington have medaled at the regional competition and progressed to the national competition.

Finally, Buchholz freshman J.J. Dubois took third in the Men’s Under-17 Single. Dubois finished in 8:21.270, behind first-place Malakai Leon of Sarasota (8:10.856) and Sebastien Touzard of Miami Beach (8:17.515).

Overall, GAR finished 12th out of 42 teams that participated in the regionals. Within that, GAR took second overall in the sculling categories, three points behind Sarasota and 62 points ahead of third-place Atlanta Junior Rowing. Sarasota, which is the largest club in the Southeast with more than 400 rowers, had twice as many sculling entries as GAR.

“We had a strong weekend as a team, placing second in overall team points for sculling in the region. Having put an emphasis on the sculling discipline this year, it is great to see these results,” Conzemius said. "We'll be sending three crews for the second straight year with the possibility of two additional crews still receiving bids. The athletes are excited to continue to build speed as we move toward Nationals."

The Southeast Region is comprised of clubs and schools from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. It is considered one of the two most competitive regions in the country.

GAR is seeking help to send the 10 rowers to the national competition. The non-profit club is hoping to raise $25,000 for traveling expenses. Visit the club’s page at https://www.gofundme.com/gainesville-area-rowing-nationals.