William Smith rising senior Libby Hughes advanced all the way to the finals of the U.S. Rowing Under 23 World Championship Trials in Princeton Junction, N.J., placing third in the women’s lightweight single scull.
Today’s final was a thrilling four-boat race with all four women holding the lead at some point on the race course. At one point in the first 1,000 meters, Hughes was bow ball to bow ball with two of the other competitors with the fourth entry just half a deck length back.
The University of Tulsa’s Colleen Wohlrab pulled away for the win, securing the lone WLW1x spot on Team USA for the World Championship in Linz, Austria, later this year. She stopped the clock in 8:11.11, 2.17 seconds ahead of runner-up Marissa Catelano. Hughes posted a time of 8:21.19 with the University of Virginia’s Anna Kobayashi placing fourth in 8:28.11.
Hughes progressed to the final with a second place finish in her heat on Monday and a runner-up finish in Tuesday’s semifinals. In the opening heat, Hughes needed a spot in the top two to advance directly to the semifinals and avoid the afternoon repechages. Catelano won the heat in 8:15.77, but Hughes was comfortably in second in 8:22.54, more than 13 seconds ahead of the third place boat.
On Tuesday, the top two finishers in each semifinal earned a place in the final. Kobayashi took the top spot in 8:19.73 with Hughes crossing the line in 8:21.32, enjoying a more than five second margin over third place.
As a member of the William Smith varsity eight, Hughes finished third in the grand final at the NCAA Championships, won a bronze medal at the ECAC NIRC, and took home gold medals at the New York State and Liberty League championships. In the fall, Hughes and the varsity eight won the collegiate division at the Head of the Genesee and took second at the Head of the Charles and the Head of the Fish.
No stranger to sculling, Hughes was a two-time New York State Champion and won the 2009 SRAA National Championship in the varsity pair for Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y.