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July 26, 2015

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PLOVDIV, Bulgaria-Three members of the Virginia rowing program earned gold medals at the World Under-23 Championships, which concluded Sunday (July 26) in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The U.S. women’s eight, featuring rising junior coxswain Colette Lucas-Conwell (Palo Alto, Calif.), Class of 2015 graduate Lizzy Youngling (Westport, Conn.) and rising junior Georgia Ratcliff (Falls Church, Va.), came from behind to take over Russia and win gold. Youngling also earned gold in the women’s four, while Ratcliff took home gold in the women’s pair.

“Winning the eight with two fellow Hoos was such a blast!” Ratcliff said. “Something that is so special about the eight is that you get the opportunity to celebrate and have eight teammates that are excited with you about winning and competing. Having two of those people also be your college teammates magnifies that shared excitement. When you experience something as cool and life changing as earning a gold medal at a world championship, you can’t help but want to bring that home. It’s infectious. So it’s awesome to know that you have another member of your team to help bring that momentum back to Charlottesville.”

Youngling was part of the American eight that also captured gold at the 2014 World U23 regatta. Ratcliff previously earned medals for the U.S. at the 2011 and 2012 World Junior Championships. Lucas-Conwell was the first UVa coxswain to be selected to a U.S. national team.

“As my third and last year competing at the Under-23 level, I wanted to have my best regatta,” Youngling said. “My goal for 2015 was to be in the 8+ as well as the 4- and I achieved that this summer. It was really exciting to have four teammates competing with me at Worlds in Bulgaria, however, the cherry on top was having our awesome coach, Kevin Sauer, there who coached the men’s 8+. He has really shaped me into the rower I am today and I am so thankful for him. He was the first person I saw and hugged once we got onto the medal stand and it was really special to share that moment with him. Coco (Lucas-Conwell) did an awesome job coxing our race, Georgia (Ratcliff) is such a strong natural leader, and Erin (Briggs) and Sam (Casto) had the highest finish a U.S. 4x has had in many years. I felt so proud to have UVa so well-represented at an international regatta where we made history winning gold in all of the sweep events.”

Rising senior Sam Casto (Dallas, Pa.), rising junior Erin Briggs (Orono, Minn.) and the American women’s quad narrowly missed out on a medal, placing fourth, while rising junior Ali Zwicker (Victoria, British Columbia) finished 11th overall in the same event with the Canadian crew.

The U.S. men’s eight, coached by UVa head coach Kevin Sauer, earned silver behind Germany, but ahead of Russia.

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