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Isaac Takes Silver in Canada – .17 Seconds Away From Gold

St. Catherine’s Canada: On August 8th,  Isaac Mocarski and his father, Ted,strapped one the Narragansett Boat Club shells to the top of their family car, left Providence, and made the trek to this Valhalla of rowing,  the 130th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, which is  the Western Hemisphere’s summer championship. Incredibly, this was still Isaac’s first season of racing and here he was taking on this huge challenge. He had already won the Junior A Single at the USRowing Club Nationals in July. He also surged to a very strong 4th place finish at the USRowing Youth Nationals in June. Even so, this was a major step for this sophomore soon to be junior at Moses Brown School.
On August 9, the first day of racing in the Men Under 17 Single Sculls, Mocarski drew a preliminary heat with no one he had raced before, and, as it turned out, none of them made it past the semifinals. So Mocarski had relatively easy row to win with a time of 7:39.99, which still placed him second overall. There were seven heats with 6-7 scullers in each heat for a total of 48 single scullers. The fastest sculler so far was Matt Scholl of Newburg Rowing, whom Isaac had beaten in June at the USRowing Youth Nationals and also trained with in Seattle at a Youth Quadruple Sculls Selection Camp held in July. Isaac admits that, “This was a little nerve racking as I went into this regatta, predicting him to be my strongest competition.”
On the next day, Friday August 10, Isaac took on the semifinal, and again he would not be racing Matt Scholl, or Lakin Vitton, from V-Sculls, the second place finisher in the Junior B Singles at the USRowing Club Nationals.  Mocarski won his semi-final with a time of 7:21.5, which kept him in second overall, again to Matt Scholl. Reflecting on the night before the final, Isaac said that “I was so nervous. I decided to focus my race on beating him, not even considering the soon-to-be winner (St. Catherine’s Daniel De Groot) a challenge.”
Race time came at 12:38 PM that Saturday, August 11. The tailwind wind was howling in his face, Mocarski set out race to beat Matt Scholl and Lakin Vitton in this 2000 meter final. Rowing at a 38-40 stroke rating, he was leading by a boat length at the 500 meter mark. Suddenly, he noticed Scholl picking up his rating, as was De Groot, the St. Catharine's sculler. At the 1000 meter mark, the order was Mocarski in the lead, Scholl second, Lakin third and De Groot fourth, by about three boat lengths. Scholl and Mocarski had settled to 34-36 strokes per minute. This was much higher than Mocarski’s standard race pace, which ranges from 26-32, but he really wanted this win over School “so badly that he could taste it.” Starting his sprint very early, at 500 meters to go, Mocarski increased his rating to 40 strokes per minute. As soon as he made his move, De Groot, the St. Catharine's sculler, raised his. De Groot was now rowing at a 40-42, and he passed Scholl and Lakin with ease.
With 250 meters to go, Isaac realized that he could win this event. Somehow that was not a thought that crossed his mind in first 500 meters, or even before the race. But now he was making his bid to win. Isaac forced himself to go up even higher to a 46 stroke rating. As soon as Isaac made his move, De Groot made his. Both scullers were now bow to bow fighting for first place. At the finish, Mocarski and De Groot looked at each other, exchanging looks of pain and exhaustion. They also mouthed: "Who won?" or "Good job". De Groot was finally declared the winner through a digital photo finish.
Times for the Men Under 17 Singles Final: 1. Daniel De Groot (St. Catherine’s), 7:04.140; 2. Isaac Mocarski (Narragansett Boat Club), 7:04.370; 3. Matthew Scholl (Newburg Rowing), 7:07.730; 4. Benjamin Davison (South Orlando Rowing Association), 7:21.540; 5. Cosmo Steier (Ridley Graduate Boat Club), 7:25.700; 6. Lakin Vitton (V-Sculls/Riverside Rowing), 7:25.810.
Having no regrets, Isaac, who did all he could to win, took it well: “Although I missed 1st place by .2 seconds, I was proud of myself. I managed to hold onto my #1 ranking for U17 in the US, and actually grabbed #2 in North America. Although there was some disappointment, I don't think there was a better way to end my first summer-sprint season.” One additional fact: Isaac now has had plenty of experience to be recognized as an experienced sculler. And, yet another fact: Coach Peter Wilhelm has a very strong candidate to replace Breck Wagner in his US National Championship Men’s Junior Double. Breck will be a senior rower in 2013. Isaac is one of the junior scullers at the Narragansett Boat Club in Providence, RI.
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