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Ladue Senior Rows His Way Into Harvard

Jonathan Young recently won an international indoor rowing contest.

Ladue High School senior Jonathan Young has had quite a year. He was part of the Ladue cross-country team that won state in the fall, for the first time. Then he learned he won a rowing scholarship to Harvard University, and recently he won his division in an international indoor rowing contest, the Charles River All Star Has-Beens (C.R.A.S.H.-B.) Sprints World Indoor Rowing Championship, in Boston.

He called getting into Harvard a complicated process. “I wish I could say, go row for St. Louis Rowing Club, pull some fast times, and go to Harvard,” he said. “But unfortunately, I can’t. It’s a hard admissions process, and just a lot of things to take into account.”

He started rowing his sophomore year, when he was looking for a spring sport. The St. Louis Rowing Club (SLRC) had come by recruiting, and he had some friends who rowed with the club, so he thought he’d try it out. He said his cross-country training already had him at a high level of fitness, so he quickly moved from the novice to the varsity team, where he could train with the best in St. Louis.

“I came off the cross-country season, and I was suddenly, like, really fast, in a pool of guys who were just starting to row,” Young said.

“One of the things he shows,” said his SLRC coach, Andrew Black, “is that you don’t have to row all year, most of our guys row all year. You can be a spring rower. Do other sports in the winter, as long as you’re in great physical shape.”

Young’s level of fitness and determination helped the Ladue cross country team go from missing a championship by seven places his sophomore year, to missing by one place in his junior year, to winning it in his senior year.

“We were hoping for it,” Young said. “Last year, and maybe even the year before that, we had our sights set on that from day one of practice, and summer practices. My coaches, Tim Levine and Suzanne Person, they did a lot to make that happen. And we had a solid team of seven guys on the varsity, as well as the support from the JV…That was really an inspiring moment when we got to see ourselves on the podium, finally.

“It’s the first time it’s happened in Ladue history, and it’s still mind-boggling,” Young said.

The indoor rowing competition, the C.R.A.S.H.-Bs started as group of elite rowers in the Boston area who wanted a way to keep themselves entertained in the winter, Black said. It grew in popularity, and is now considered the unofficial world championships. The “race” is on a Concept 2 ergometer, the indoor rower used by rowers around the world to train on in the winter. The racers compete over the “distance” of 2,000 meters, the sprint distance in many rowing races.

Young beat the qualifying time locally, and was flown out by Concept 2 to compete in the race in Boston.

“It’s virtual sort of racing,” Young said. “It’s hard to visualize…You have to remind yourself that this is really a race, and that somebody will virtually place in front of you if you go slower.”

It’s held in the Agganis Arena, at Boston University. “It’s really cool because they employ all the different media that you would see at a normal hockey game, but they use it for C.R.A.S.H.-B…you see the live feed of where, of how everybody is placing in their event. There’s live coverage, there’s an announcer, and, for example, the announcer was British. I rowed next to a German, and there was a Danish guy and a Mexican guy, both in my event,” Young said.

Young won his division, junior lightweights (high school-age, under 165 lbs.), ahead of 161 others from the US and several other countries. He was in third place at the halfway mark, and rowed into the lead in the third 500.

Tim Frank, head coach at the SLRC said Young maintained a steady pace throughout the race. Frank said Young rowed like a hammer, meaning that he kept pounding away. The winner of each division is actually awarded a hammer on the podium.

“To go there, to win the junior lightweight division, basically marks him as the best junior lightweight in the country,” Black said. “So it’s a fantastic achievement.” He said Young also helped put St. Louis and the SLRC on the rowing map.

Young enjoyed taking AP environmental science last year at Ladue, and plans on studying something in that field at Harvard. He said business is also an interest.

“I’m really excited,” Young said, “I mean, as a senior, I’m excited to go anywhere, but I’m very excited about going to Harvard.”

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