Originally created 09/18/00

Rowers have yet to make mark



SYDNEY-Augusta rowers continued to fight through Olympic jitters as both the men's and women's quad sculls finished third in their heats Monday.

The men advanced to Friday's semifinals, while the women will have to race in the repechages or second-chance round on Wednesday.

The men, with Sean Hall, Nick Peterson, Ian McGowan and Jake Wetzel in the boat, fell behind a strong Italy team early and continued to lose time throughout the race. The Americans were overtaken by Switzerland in the last 500 meters of the 2,000-meter race.

The U.S. boat still has a medal shot because no team has established itself as the favorite. The Americans won a bronze medal in the world cup stop in Vienna just before the 2000 Olympics. Italy, Austria and Ukraine also won world cup events and Switzerland has shown some power.

The women's quad team said they were a little nervous at the start of the race and made some technical errors, so they were happy with their third-place finish.

"It was not our best," said Kelly Salchow. "Since there are plenty of areas to improve on, at least we're optimistic.

"It's not quite as overwhelming as I thought it would be, but I was nervous. This whole thing has been a mind game for me."

The women finished behind Russia and Great Britain in their heat. The top boat in each of two heats advanced directly to the Sunday finals while the rest must go through the repechages and semifinals. Hilary Gehman thought the extra racing actually would be good for the American team.

"We have a lot more in us," she said, "but we didn't tap into it. The more races we have, the better we'll get. We knew the Russians would be fast and we hadn't raced Great Britain before. We could have raced them better, and know we know them, so it should help us.

"We've proven in the past we get better with every race. Besides, whatever the situation is we have to make the best of it."

The women's quad team finished fourth at last year's world championships and won a medal at the world cup stop in Lucerne. Germany is the heavy favorite.

The men's and women's double sculls teams from Augusta are in second-chance races Tuesday, hoping to advance.

In other rowing action the U.S. men's eight, three-time defending world champions, were upset in their heat by Croatia. Australia won the other heat. The Americans now must fight back through the repechage round.