MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – As a continuation of their outstanding rowing careers at the collegiate level, juniors Sam Pratt and Rachelle Flowers of the Wesleyan University men's and women's crew team were selected to represent Team USA at the 2018 World University Championships in Shanghai, China, on Aug. 10-12.
"I am incredibly excited for the opportunity this summer," Flowers said. "I think it is really a testament to this team; we all have been pushing each other so hard and we elevate each other every day. I would not be where I am without them. I want to go into this experience to learn as much as I can. The level of competition is very high, and I think it offers an incredible opportunity for athletic and competitive growth."
The two elite athletes were chosen amidst a highly-selective process, featuring universities from across the United States. Pratt and Flowers will begin their journey on the national stage with training occurring on Ford Lake in Ypsilanti, Mich., from May 31 - Aug. 3. During the training process, the men's and women's national teams will be able to measure its potential against thick competition at the USRowing National Championships on July 11-15 at Cooper River in Camden, N.J.
"My initial thoughts would be how lucky I am," Pratt said. "I have had the chance to row at Wesleyan with some amazing guys who have pushed me forward onto this level. I am really looking forward to the opportunity to train and race with such a high-quality squad this summer, and see the work that I have put in over the last few years come to fruition. Obviously, the main goal for me is always to win, but I can also take a step back and appreciate how big of an opportunity this is regardless of the final results."
Pratt, who has been coached by Wesleyan men's crew head coach Phil Carney over the last three years, was chosen by Gregg Hartsuff, who serves as the head coach of the World University Championships Men's Rowing Team and has been a staple as the head coach at the University of Michigan for 24 years.
"Sam Pratt has been a key member of our Varsity Eight since his freshman year," Carney said. "We are extremely proud that he has earned the opportunity to represent the United States in this manner, and we look forward to following his progress through the summer."
Flowers has been able to learn from women's crew head coach Pat Tynan at Wesleyan over the last three seasons, and her outstanding talent and ability caught the attention of the decision makers for Team USA. She will be coached by Kemp Savage.
"This is such a great opportunity for Rachelle and I am so proud of her development as a rower, leader and person," Tynan said. "She is so focused and really excited to represent the U.S. at the World University Games this summer. I think Rachelle is so good at doing her job no matter the level of pressure. She is an outstanding teammate and loves to race."
As a London, England native, Pratt was an instrumental part of the men's crew team at Wesleyan since he arrived in Middletown, Conn., in the fall of 2015, as he has been a member of the Varsity Eight boat at the Head of the Charles Regatta, New England Rowing Championships and National Invitational Rowing Championships every year of his career.
"It is a massive honor to get to race for the U.S., and it is a great opportunity to represent Wesleyan's team at a high level," Pratt said. "It will be a new and different experience racing so far from home, and I really look forward to soaking up such a different environment, while also getting to compete in the sport I love and spend so much time on."
Competing with the Varsity Eight, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound philosophy major earned fourth-place finishes in the sixth-seat position at the New England Rowing Championships and the National Invitational Rowing Championships as a freshman. Pratt, a 2015 Hampton School graduate, also grabbed fourth-place accolades in the Varsity Eight boat as a sophomore at the New England Rowing Championships, and excelled as a junior in the stroke seat of the Cardinals' Varsity Eight.
Additionally, Pratt gained valuable experience as a four-year rower in high school, competing at the Henley Royal Regatta for the Hampton Rowing Squad. The sport runs in his family, as both of his parents, Neil and Libby, starred as former rowers.
Flowers grew up in Marblehead, Mass., graduating from The Commonwealth School, as she picked up the sport of rowing as a junior through the Community Rowing Inc. program, and immediately it became her passion. She arrived in Middletown, Conn., in 2015 and continued to climb the ranks in the rowing spectrum, grabbing second-place honors in the New England Rowing Championships as a rookie, to go along with third-place nods at the National Invitational Championships and NCAA Division III Championships.
Flowers, who serves as a team captain for the Cardinals, was outstanding as a sophomore, earning first-place honors at the Head of the Charles Regatta, while also compiling a runner-up effort with her boat at the New England Rowing Championships. This past fall, the superb student-athlete was part of a second-place performance at the Head of the Charles.
"I really love this sport," Flowers said. "I feel incredibly lucky to be able to represent the USA at this level."