Crew shine as Braz wins gold, Schofield the silver at World Rowing Junior Championships

The Sarasota Crew’s Clark Dean, Julia Braz and Harrison Schofield all played key roles on Sunday in the best performance the United State has ever had at the World Rowing Junior Championships.

Racing on the 2,000-meter course in Racice, Czech Republic, Dean, 18, led the way by successfully defending his world crown in the single sculls, winning in a time of 7:01.37. The 6-4 graduate of the Pine View School also won the single sculls in 2017 when the world championships were held in Trakai, Lithuania.

In addition to Dean’s victory, the U.S. also found gold in the women’s four that included Braz. Schofield took home the silver in the men’s eight.

The two golds and seven total medals the U.S. claimed on Sunday topped the previous best of six set in 2016 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The U.S. led the medal count, ahead of Germany and Italy with five each.

Longtime Sarasota Crew coach Casey Galvanek is also the head coach of the Under-19 U.S. Junior Men’s National Team for 2018.

“It was a terrific day for the U.S. Under-19 team,” Galvanek said via text message from the Czech Republic. “The most medals won and the first time atop the medals table. The boys and girls had a wonderful outing.

“It was also great to have so many kids from my home club, the Sarasota Crew, participate in this first-ever achievement.”

Dean laid back in fourth place until the 500-meter mark when he began his surge. He overtook the rest of the field and got stronger the final 500 meters to defeat Australia’s Cormac Kennedy-Leverett in second place by 3.63 seconds. Tristan Vandenbussche of Belgium finished third.

The highly anticipated head-to-head matchup between Dean and Moritz Wolff never materialized in the final. The suspense ended when Germany’s top junior rower capsized at 750 meters and didn’t finish the race.

The rivalry began in Lithuania last year when Dean captured the gold and Wolff took home the silver.

On Wednesday, Dean set a new world record of 6:52.2 in a single sculls heat race. On Friday, Wolff claimed the world mark of 6:50.2 in the quarterfinals. Twenty-four hours later, Dean re-set the record at 6:45.45 during Saturday’s semifinals.

Dean’s winning time on Sunday was considerably slower, due in part by the fact that he hit a buoy at about 1,000 meters and came to a complete standstill.

“I knew it was going to be a really different race this year,” Dean told USRowing.org. “Last year, obviously, Moritz was fast, but going into the final, it was basically a duel between me and him. This year, I knew whatever it was, it was going to be more than just a duel.

“Today and yesterday, I practiced pulling back in the first 500 meters just to save myself. I just wanted to find a pace and move right through.”

Braz joined Catherine Garrett of Darien, Conn., Margaret Hedeman of Concord, Mass., and Kelsey McGinley of Westport, Conn., to win the women’s four in 6:42.81. Italy was .39 seconds behind in second place and New Zealand took third place.

It was the fourth straight year that the U.S. team finished second in the men’s eight.

Schofield teammed up with Eli Kalfaian of Milford, Conn., John Mark Ozaeta of Moraga, Calif., Harrison Burke of Westport, Conn., Nicholas Fisher of West Hartford, Conn., Charles Fargo of Winnetka, Ill., Henry Lowe of Pacific Palisades, Calif., Ryan Beeler of Melrose, Mass., and coxswain Dylan White of Newport Beach, Calif., to take home the silver.

The group finished less than a second behind champion Great Britain at 5:37.56 and Germany was third.

The U.S. also won silver in the men’s four with coxswain, the women’s pair and women’s eight. The U.S. took home the bronze medal in the women’s four with coxswain.