TYRA Earns Best National Rankings In Recent Times at USRowing Youth Nationals

tulsa youth rowing association nationals oakes and mcmahan 3 college opportunities scholarships

In early June, the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association traveled to Sarasota, FL, to compete at the USRowing Youth Nationals following successful finishes at the Central Districts Regatta held in Oklahoma City in May.

Youth Nationals is the pinnacle event in the national youth rowing season. Over 4,000 athletes competed at the event at the Olympic venue at Nathan Benderson Park—national titles were awarded in thirty-eight different boat classes. 

Halee McMahan (Booker T. Washington) and Emory Oakes (Lincoln Christian) represented Tulsa in the Women’s Double Scull event, and McMahan doubled up in the Women’s Singles Event. 

The event’s format involves a starting time trial over 2000m to place athletes and crews into eight-lane semi-finals. McMahan raced in the singles time trial and placed 16th out of a 27-athlete field featuring the strongest scullers in the nation. 

The women’s double time trial followed very shortly, and Oakes and McMahan raced aggressively down the course to capture 11th place and secure a place in the A/B semi-finals. It cannot be understated how demanding and grueling it would be for athletes to have minimal rest between time trials and continue to perform at high levels, as was the case here for McMahan. Hence, this result was particularly noteworthy for the Tulsa natives and demonstrates the trust and commitment between these two student-athletes.

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On semifinal day, McMahan worked hard to earn an 8th-place finish in the first semi-final and once more lept right back into the double with Oakes to return to the start line for the semi-final in the double. Once more, the pair worked hard to secure a 7th-place finish in the semi-final and a place in the B final to earn a national ranking between 9th and 16th place.

On the event’s final day, Haleen McMahan raced in the B final of the women’s single sculls to capture 6th place and 13th in the nation. Considering McMahan placed 23rd in the country at last year’s event, this result marked a considerable improvement over the previous twelve months

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Just 28 minutes later, the Tulsa duo had returned to the starting line to compete in the B final of the women’s double sculls. One last effort propelled the double down the course to place 6th and 14th in the nation at the most competitive event in the junior rowing calendar. 

“The 2024 Youth Nationals was the best way to close our senior year with TYRA. Halee and I have had the best time racing together over the years, and I’m especially proud of our results at Youth Nationals. We raced the best of the best and represented TYRA and our Central District well, ” said Oakes of their efforts.

“I am glad I could finish my last year with TYRA strong. I qualified for Nationals in two races and didn’t hesitate to take on that challenge. Despite the difficult hot seating and tough competition, I am proud of my outcomes in the single and double races with Emory. We pushed past our limits and left Florida knowing we had made the most of our time as junior rowers, landing in the top 15 in the nation in both races! I will miss the memories I made in Tulsa, but I look forward to a new chapter!” said McMahan.

TYRA Head Coach Valentino Angelini was proud of the athlete’s efforts and commented – “Racing at the USRowing Youth National Championships is always special, especially for a minor club team.  I’m honored to have attended this event with some fantastic athletes representing our city nationally for the third consecutive year.

On this occasion, Halee and Emory went through the whole race progression, which was a first for the team during my time here.  Their effort to get our boats into the B-Finals was genuinely inspiring.  With the double finishing 14th in the country and Halee placing 13th in the country in her single, these are the best results we have seen at nationals since I started coaching at TYRA full-time in 2020.

Halee and Emory raced together for the last few years, and the progress they have both made has been awe-inspiring.  I first met Halee when I coached TYRA’s recreational team part-time in 2018/2019, and Emory joined the team after attending our summer Learn To Row sessions in 2021.  Now, they will row at the collegiate level, which was their perfect send-off.  I speak for the entire organization when I say that we can’t wait to see what’s next for them, and we are incredibly proud of what they’ve accomplished over the years.

Coaches Tino Angelini and Luke Schula (both TYRA Alumni) celebrate at regionals after qualification to Nationals with Oakes and McMahan.

TYRA had quite a successful season leading up to this point, bringing home top results from each regatta we attended. The wins and the results are always lovely to talk about, but they are never the actual indicators of success. The year’s highlight was the community, friendships, and bonds this sport created on our team. I look forward to seeing what the 2024-2025 season brings!” said Angelini.

TYRA is currently recruiting for the Fall season. For more information, please contact the club at info@okrowing.org or visit our website at www.okrowing.org.