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Print Editions Wednesday September 27th, 2023

Will Legenzowski ’22 and Simon Hatcher ’23.5 qualify for 2021 U23 World Rowing Championships

Men's crew team members each win event at U.S. U23 Trials

Will Legenzowski ’22 and Simon Hatcher ’23.5 qualified for the 2021 U23 World Rowing Championships after finishing first in the single scull and first in the double scull, respectively, at the U23 World Rowing Championship Trials in Sarasota, Florida June 14 and 15. As a result of their victories, Legenzowski and Hatcher, both rowers on the men’s crew team, will compete for the U.S. national team in Racice, Czech Republic July 7 to 11. 

Legenzowski, an experienced sculler who just missed out on Olympic qualification with a fifth place finish at single scull trials in February 2020, went into the World Championship trials with an expectation of success. “It's a lot lower stakes to lose a race you're supposed to lose, versus win a race you're supposed to win,” Legenzowski said. “But I’ve raced at this course a lot of times, I've raced in the single (scull) many times. For the most part, I felt pretty comfortable and in control. I put a lot of trust into my training and it paid off.” Legenzowski won the single scull final by 8.63 seconds to book his spot at the World Championships.

Hatcher, racing alongside Boston University rower Tucker Thomas, claimed victory by a 8.18-second margin in the double scull. “The U.S. trials were (my teammate) Tucker’s first race ever, so there was a significant disparity in our experience levels,” Hatcher said. “Our maturity and willingness to race in a calm and collected way definitely improved over the course of the regatta. We were just ready to let loose a lot of energy that we’d been gaining, and I think that that propelled us down the course to victory.”

For Legenzowski and Hatcher, victories at the trials mean that they each have achieved a long-held goal of representing the United States in international competition. “As long as I've been rowing, it has been my biggest goal to represent the United States in the men's single (scull) at a world championship,” Legenzowski said. “I've tried before in the past and came up just short, so to finally check this off my list just feels phenomenal.”

“I set the goal my freshman year that I would want to row for the United States with red, white and blue on my blades,” Hatcher said. “To realize that goal within the year was the greatest feeling.”

“It's exciting for the program that people are reaching that standard,” said crew Head Coach Paul Cooke ’89 P’21 P’22. “Simon and Will had some really good competition, so I’m very impressed by what both those guys did in order to make it to the world championship.”

“I would say they made the best of a bad situation with the pandemic,” added team captain-elect Ben Olsen ’22. “Instead of waiting for the world to start again, they focused on their training and did something remarkable.”

Since last summer, Legenzowski and Hatcher have been training at the Green Racing Project in Vermont, a facility that focuses on sculling instead of Division I rowing’s eight-person sweep standard. “We do have some sculling boats at Brown, but the Green Racing Project was specialized for sculling,” Cooke said. “It was definitely a great opportunity for them to go up there, and it was a great way for them to prepare for the trials.”

“At Brown, we're almost exclusively an eight-person boat — but here, it's a sculling center. It’s almost exclusively singles and doubles with two oars,” Legenzowski said. “The amount of time that we've spent in small sculling boats here is unparalleled to any college program, including our own.”

Following their performance in the World Championship Trials, Legenzowski and Hatcher returned to the Green Racing Project, where they will train during the weeks leading up to the World Championships in early July. “This first week is going to be pretty intense, and the second week is going to be a little bit easier in order to allow our bodies to recover,” Legenzowski said. “The vast majority of the work has already been done, a vast majority of the speed has already been found. And so now it's just a matter of maintaining and improving upon it.”

The competition at the world championships will be even stiffer than at the U.S. trials, but Legenzowski and Hatcher are looking forward to the challenge. “U.S. rowing isn't the pinnacle of rowing in the way that the U.S. is the pinnacle of football or baseball or basketball. So there's a lot of really stiff competition when you go overseas,” Legenzowski said. “But I'm not really scared to race anybody — I'm really looking forward to racing some guys that I've heard a lot about, testing their mettle and seeing if they're all that.”

Although they have been training off-campus for the better part of the past year, Hatcher and Legenzowski agreed that their time at Brown has proved invaluable in preparing them for the highest level of competition. “In terms of overall rowing quality, strength and fitness and competitive spirit, Brown has prepared us extremely well for being here,” Hatcher said.

“American (Division I) rowing is just some of the most intense, gruesome, smash-mouth competition that you can do. There are not a lot of easy strokes taken, and that's really benefited me as someone who liked racing but hadn’t necessarily been the toughest athlete growing up,” Legenzowski added. “Brown has given me such mental fortitude and this really intense racing spirit that I was then able to add to my already tactically sound abilities.”

Brown’s emphasis on technical skill also translates well to small-boat racing, according to Hatcher. “Our coaches teach us how to row really well — how to get the blade in the water and pull really effectively, such that we may not necessarily have the strongest, fastest athletes on the ergometer, but we are still punching right up there with the big dogs,” Hatcher said. “That technique is super important in small boats.”

Legenzowski and Hatcher anticipate intense races at the World Championships in July. “We're not going to have the luxury that we did racing domestically — getting up off the start and being in front from the beginning,” Legenzowski said. “There are going to be a lot of really uncomfortable moments where you're neck and neck with an opponent for probably 1,950 meters over a 2,000-meter race.”



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