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It was a bittersweet day for Mi women rowers in RIO on Thursday as Flint’s Ellen Tomek and Jackson’s Grace Latz faltered in the finals while Ann Arbor’s Grace Luczak and boatmate Felice Mueller powered into today’s pairs medal row.

Ellen Tomek

Ellen Tomek

Grace Latz

Grace Latz

Grace Luczak

Grace Luczak

As happened in the heats, Flint’s Tomek and boatmate Meghan O’Leary, of Baton Rouge, La., couldn’t recover from a poor start in rough water and trailed the field to the line in the double scull medal row.

Latz and her quad scull boatmates made a solid race of it, but couldn’t close on the leaders after coming off the start in 5th.

Ann Arbor’s Luczak and Mueller, from Cleveland, powered past the South African boat into 2nd in the final 1,000 meters of their pairs semifinal to record the second-fastest medal row qualifier, a 7:20.93. Great Britain won the heat in 7:18.69.

Luczak and Mueller turned a nearly 2/10ths of second deficit into a nearly 3-second margin over the South African boat at the finish. Luczak brings three World Championship Golds with her to RIO. A 2007 graduate from Ann Arbor Pioneer, Luczak earned a degree in human biology from Stanford.

After finishing 5th in the double sculls in Beijing, Tomek missed the London Games. The Luke M. Powers High grad began rowing in 2002 while earning a degree in Economics at the University of Michigan. She pulled stroke oar for the U.S.’s double scull silver medalist boat at the 2015 World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy.

Latz, a 2006 graduate of Jackson Northwest High with a degree in international and environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin, won a Gold and Bronze at the World Championships.

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While the U.S. women’s Eight grabbed headlines by blasting their way straight into the medal row, Flint’s Ellen Tomek and boatmate Meghan O’Leary were grinding their way through the field into the double sculls final.

Ellen Tomek

Ellen Tomek

Miscues left Tomek, 32, and O’Leary, from Baton Rouge, La., trailing the field in their heat by half a minute on Saturday and relegated them to the second-chance repêchage.

They powered into in the semifinals as repêchage runners-up on Monday, finishing 6/100ths of a second behind winner Germany.

Midway through their semifinal on Tuesday Tomek and O’Leary slid backwards into 5th, two spots out of the final, before a furious, all-out surge pushed them into 3rd by an invisible 5/100ths of a second ahead of New Zealand.

After finishing 5th in the double sculls in Beijing, Tomek missed the London Games. The Luke M. Powers High grad began rowing in 2002 while earning a degree in Economics at the University of Michigan. She pulled stroke oar for the U.S.’s double scull silver medalist boat at the 2015 World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy.

The women’s double scull medal row is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday. Cancellation of today’s events may delay the medal round.

Whether you always side with the underdog or prefer an odds-on favorite, whether you’re impressed by athletic power or grace, whether you like a rising star or a gritty veteran, you’ll find someone to root for among the six Michigan women who’ll represent the U.S. in four sports at the Rio Olympics beginning Aug. 5.

Veteran rower Ellen Tomek, 32, from Flushing is an underdog in double sculls at her second Olympic games, while 21-year-old middleweight boxer Claressa Shields, of Flint, is an odds-on favorite to take home Gold again at her second games.

Tomek and fellow rowers Grace Luczak, 27, of Ann Arbor, and Grace Latz, 28, from Jackson are the very embodiment of power. Setter Alisha Glass, 28, of Leland, brings grace, finesse and success to the U.S. women’s volleyball team.

And swimmer Allison Schmidt, 26, from Canton, has, over the course of three Olympics, experienced every emotion the games can offer: A wide-eye rookie in Beijing, Schmitt had just an outside chance to make the team for RIO despite winning 5 medals, including 3 Golds, in London.

Ellen Tomek

Ellen Tomek

After finishing 5th in the double sculls in Beijing, Tomek missed the London Games. The Luke M. Powers High grad began rowing in 2002 while earning a degree in Economics at the University of Michigan. She pulled stroke oar for the U.S.’s double scull silver medalist boat at the 2015 World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy.

Claressa Shields

Claressa Shields

Shields is unstoppable. Although just 17 in London, she was far from a fresh-faced kid. Shields overcame a childhood barely worthy of the name with an unbreakable will and ferocity that has produced a fighter who’s lost just once in 69 fights. “T-Rex” is the first member of her family to earn a high school diploma, graduating from Flint Northwestern.

 

Latz and Luczak were both in the U.S. women’s four that won the 2015 World Championship in Aiguebelette, France.

Latz has moved to the quadruple sculls for her first Olympics and Luczak is in the women’s pairs for her first Games.

Grace Latz

Grace Latz

Grace Luczak

Grace Luczak

Latz, a 2006 graduate of Jackson Northwest High with a degree in international and environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin, won a Gold and Bronze at the World Championships.

Luczak brings three World Championship Golds with her to RIO. A 2007 graduate from Ann Arbor Pioneer, Luczak earned a degree in human biology from Stanford.

Alisha Glass

Alisha Glass

The best setter on the best team at the 2014 FIVB World Championships in Italy, Glass earned her way back onto theU.S. team for RIO as the Best Setter of 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. The Leland High grad studied Kinesiology at Penn State.

Allison Schmitt

Allison Schmitt

Perhaps the most decorated swimmer ever from Michigan, “Schmitty” battled depression following a wildly successful Olympics in London where she took 5 medals: Gold in 200-meter free, 4×200 free relay and 4×100 medley relay; Silver in the 400 free and Bronze in the 4×100 free relay. She has 6 Olympic and 3 World Championship medals so far. The 2008 graduate of Canton High has a degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia.

 

MI women Ellen Tomek from Flushing and Grace Latz from Jackson have rowed their way to RIO with US Rowing.

Ellen Tomek

Ellen Tomek

Tomek, 32, will compete in double sculls and Latz, 28, in quadruple sculls.

Tomek and Meghan O’Leary secured their spot on Team USA with a 12-second win in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials final in Florida in April.

Latz pulled bow for the U.S. boat that finished 6th at the World Rowing Cup II in Switzerland in May.

Grace Latz

Grace Latz

Tomek is making her second trip to the Olympics. The Powers Catholic grad began rowing at U-M in 2002 and finished 5th in double sculls at the 2008 Games in London.

Tomek and O’Leary finished 11th at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in France.

Latz, a Jackson Northwest alum, began rowing at the University of Wisconsin in 2006 and has won two world championship medals so far. She took Gold with U.S. women’s 4 in 2015 and Bronze in the quadruple sculls in 2014.

Joining Latz in the quadruple scull for RIO are Adrienne Martelli, Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser.

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