Bound for Greece

  • Mike Cane<br>For the Enterprise
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:53am

Two of Snohomish County’s own are preparing to take on the world’s rowing elite.

Kelly Foster and Courtney Plitt of the Everett Rowing Association qualified for the United States Junior National Team, which will compete at the World Rowing Junior Championships Aug. 5-9 in Schinias, Greece.

Foster, 17, and Plitt, 18, both in their third year with the Everett Rowing Association (ERA), were two of 40 girls invited to try out for the national team. Foster and Plitt excelled in a variety of water and land tests to be selected to the women’s eight squad.

“I couldn’t have picked two better kids to represent the team,” ERA coach Matt Lacey said. “(Foster and Plitt) have got the entire package — work ethic and they’re good kids.”

The two have been training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., since June 11. They leave July 26 to train, hopefully with the women’s national team, at Princeton University, and then travel to Greece July 29.

According to Lacey, the only other Everett rower to make the Junior National Team was Brian Skoog in 1997.

“We’re thrilled two kids from Everett are going to be on the team,” Lacey said, adding that younger ERA team members already want to follow Foster and Plitt’s strokes.

“We’re hoping for more (in the future). They are setting the expectations high.”

Foster and Plitt helped lead ERA’s women’s varsity eight-plus to a regional championship in May and later a fourth-place showing at the Youth Rowing Invitational in Cincinnati.

Foster, normally ERA’s No. 6 seat in the boat’s “engine room,” brings power and speed, Lacey said. “She (Foster) is the strongest kid in the world. Kids are excited to row behind her, they let her drive (the boat).”

Foster, who will be a senior at Lake Stevens High this fall, set an American record at 2,000 meters in 6:49.4 seconds to win a junior women’s indoor world championship in February. She recently set a new record while training in California (6:48.3).

“With the age she (Foster) is at,” Lacey said, “there’s no comparison. She’s truly in her own world.”

Foster, who is considering rowing at Washington, Stanford, Yale and Princeton, is currently the No. 3 seat for the national team. Her role is basically the same, she said, but this experience will no doubt be different.

“I’m excited,” Foster said. “It’s going to be really hot, though.”

In August, the average temperature in Greece is 88 degrees Fahrenheit and can reach as high as 100 degrees.

Plitt, an ERA co-captain, sets the rhythm for Everett, Lacey said.

“She (Plitt) is just incredible. She’s aggressive, she gets out there and competes at all costs.”

Plitt, a recent Jackson High graduate who will row for Washington this fall, made some technical changes in her style to make the national team.

Final positions aren’t yet set, but for now Plitt has moved from her usual No. 7 seat with ERA — a rhythm-setting spot — to the No. 2 seat. Plitt said she has improved her posture and blade placement to fill the role.

“Our job is to get our blades in first and make sure we’re not behind,” Plitt said.

Plitt and Foster recently helped the junior national team finish a training race with a time that’s two weeks ahead of the pace of last year’s squad, which placed third.

“It (the training) is going really well,” Plitt said. “We hope to get the gold this time.

“We’re running pretty well,” Foster added. “(But) we have room for improvement.”

And they have just enough time to appreciate their achievement.

“Rarely do two people from the same (local) team make it,” Foster said. “Our (ERA) team is getting more well known. It’s incredible.” Mike Cane writes for The Herald in Everett.

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