WORLD CHAMPIONS: Sass '19 wins rowing gold, coached by Rubino '09

Keith McShea


(Photo from USRowing)

Nathaniel Sass '19 (above right) and USRowing teammate Collin Hay won gold Friday morning in the lightweight men's pair at the 2022 World Rowing Under 23 Championships on Lake Varese in Varese, Italy.

The pair is coached by R.J. Rubino '09, the head rowing coach at CHS.

After finishing fourth in the event last year, Sass and Hay used a controlled race to win the gold medal with a time of 6:36.94.

"We were just excited to get another shot at something we were so close to last year," said Sass, who rows for the University of Pennsylvania and was an assistant coach with Canisius this past season. "We stuck to what we knew about how we race and then executed according to plan."

"Nathaniel Sass and Collin Hay executed this race to perfection," said Rubino. "Our training and preparation paid off. You could see their superior strength and conditioning kick in at the 1000-meter mark.

"We did this for our home, the City of Buffalo. Thank you to everyone at Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association, Canisius High School, our generous donors and families who supported our effort. I hope this inspires people to aspire for and achieve greatness in their lives."

The U.S. duo sat in third position off the start, just behind Chile, with Italy powering off the start line to take the early advantage. However, the U.S. was able to maintain contact in the first 500 and then used its base strength to move into first at the 1,000-meter mark.

"The thing we noticed was that we had a really good base rate. We wanted to keep that," said Sass. "The issue was off the start. Some of those other crews were really explosive off the start – Italy, Hungary – they just jump off the line. We really just wanted to reduce that sting of their initial attack by keeping a more elevated first 20 strokes. Keep that margin smaller, so when we went to base rate, it was less of a gap to make up."

The U.S. extended its advantage over the third 500 meters, taking the lead out to nearly two seconds. In the final quarter of the race, Italy was cheered on by its home crowd as it tried to chase down the American crew, but Sass and Hay were able to hold off the Italian sprint and claim the world title by just under one second.

Italy's Francesco Bardelli and Stefano Pinsone took the silver in a 6:37.92 while Chile's Manuel Fernandez Antri and Rodrigo Paz took bronze in a 6:41.76.

"We did what we said we were going to do, but it's surreal when it actually happens," said Hay, a Shrewsbury, Mass., native out of the University of Delaware who has raced this event at the last three World Rowing Under 23 Championships. "This has been something I've dreamed about for a long time. At the 1,500, I was like, 'Oh my God, this is it. We've got this.' That (race) was every ounce of everything I've got."

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