Canandaigua grad helps rowing team reach Olympic finals

Joe Rexrode, USA Today Network Published  Aug. 8, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – Dominance was expected and dominance was delivered.

And there’s no enjoying it for the U.S. women’s eight team until the job is finished. After destroying the field in their heat Monday at Lagoa Stadium to reach the final – with a time of 6:06.34, more than eight seconds faster than runner-up Romania – the eight rowers and coxswain Katelin Snyder had no time to dwell.

In fact, Snyder made sure there was no loitering, hurrying her teammates past reporters after a couple minutes and back out of the public eye until an expected gold medal can be claimed Saturday. That would be the third straight gold for the U.S. women’s eight, one of the most overpowering teams of any sport in Rio. This team has won 10 straight world or Olympic titles dating back to 2006.

This was “a very internal race,” said Meghan Musnicki, who joins Eleanor Logan as a returnee from the 2012 Games in London. Musnicki is a Canandaigua graduate. Her mother, Gail, lives in Naples, Ontario County.

The U.S. team, which includes Canandaigua graduate Meghan Musnicki, competes in the women's eight heat during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. The U.S. won the heat to reach the finals. (Photo: Andre Penner, AP)

In other words, there wasn’t a lot of looking around. There wasn’t much to see anyway.

“We were just focusing on how our boat, the nine of us, was feeling,” Musnicki said. “That was kind of our focus to not really think about what’s going on on the outside, and just see what we could do. Because this is the first time we’ve raced in this lineup. So, you know, it was fun. It was a great race.”

Great for the Americans. In the other heat, Great Britain finished with a time of 6:09.52, suggesting a chance to at least stay within range in the final. But the Americans are the clear favorites, whether they acknowledge it or not.

“I have an immense amount of respect for all the other boats,” Musnicki said. “It’s gonna be a tight final and I think a barn burner of a race, and we’re all excited to see how it plays out.”

One of the first timers, Emily Regan (Michigan State), called herself “incredibly lucky” to be on this team after 10 years of rowing.

“They’re super tough and it’s really special to be in this boat, so I’m excited,” Regan said. “Our team gets faster and faster because every day, no one feels comfortable and we feel we’re never gonna have a spot in the boat, so you’ve got to be pushing all the time.”

And that’s when Snyder announced to her teammates: “It’s over!”

“OK, sorry, bye,” Regan said.

Joe Rexrode writes for The Tennessean.