Local rower to pull his weight – and then some

A local rowing sensation will be going for gold on Saturday, Aug. 8, during the World Rowing Junior Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Justin Best (second from right) poses with his teammates in Rio de Janeiro.

Justin Best (second from right) poses with his teammates in Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy of U.S. Rowing Association

Justin Best, a 2015 Unionville graduate, is representing the U.S. on an eight-member team that has been competing against the top junior rowers from over 40 countries.

The U.S. team used two second-place finishes on Thursday to advance to Saturday's finals. Having finished second in its first heat by 0.39 seconds, the crew just missed the top spot in the repechage – a contest in which the top teams that failed to win heats compete for a place in the finals.

After holding first place through the 1,500-meter mark in the repechage, the U.S. team saw The Netherlands crew seize the advantage, finishing with a time of 5:58.12; the U.S. came in at 5:58.85, according to the U.S. Rowing Association's website.

Jeanne Best, Justin’s mother, said she and her husband, Glenn, have been enjoying vicarious excitement, communicating via text and Facebook with their son. After Thursday’s close races, they got a text in which he acknowledged the tough competition but then used it to fuel his determination. “We are hungry for a “W” now,” Justin Best wrote.

Saturday’s race, initially scheduled for Sunday, promises to hold additional challenges from Mother Nature. When weather forecasters predicted that winds would intensify to 25 mph on Sunday, organizers moved the finals up a day; slightly less intense winds are expected on Saturday.

Jeanne Best said her family and friends would be glued to the computer during the race. She said she’s confident that her cheers will be loud enough that her son will hear them.

“They’ll be a lot of people pulling for him – no pun intended,” she said.

For those interested in following the race, go to http://www.worldrowing.com/events/2015-world-rowing-junior-championships/. Click on "live tracker" to get a graphic and audio from the race, which is scheduled to begin at 11:06 a.m.

Best, 17, who is eager to attend Drexel University in the fall as a member of its crew team, was selected through national tryouts spanning nine identification camps (where national team coaches identify potential contenders) from coast to coast that started in January and a selection camp in Pittsburgh this past June.

The other members of the U.S. team are coxswain Ethan Ruiz (Newport Beach, Ca.), Mark Levinson (San Francisco, Ca.), Hunter Johnson (Winnetka, Ill.), Cameron Chater (Berkeley, Ca.), Ethan Seder (Berkeley, Ca.), Charles Watt (Acton, Mass.), Andrew Gaard (Madison, Wis.), and James Palmer (Rye, N.Y.)


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