NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan’s Graham Mink could be the latest rower from coach Yan Vengerovskiy to make an impact on the national stage.
Mink will part of a team from New Canaan Crew that will attempt to win the Men’s Youth 4x at the U.S. Youth Nationals in June. The crew takes its first step toward that goal this weekend in the Northeast Junior District Championships in Lowell, Mass.
Mink, a senior at St. Luke’s School, was part of the team that won the event last year. He could also row in the Men’s Youth 1x, an event in which he competed at the Rowing World Junior Championships last year in Bulgaria. Yengerovskiy and Mink were still evaluating Mink’s options for events this weekend.
“I put him in a similar pool with Andrew Campbell and Nate Kelly and some of the other great ones that we’ve had,’’ said Vengerovskiy, who trains Mink out of the Maritime Rowing Club in Norwalk. “He’s very similar to them. He has the potential to become as good as any of them.”
That’s high praise, considering Campbell and Kelly have both excelled in international competition. Kelly, who assists Vengerovskiy, was a former babysitter for Mink.
“I never knew I was going to get this far,’’ said Mink, who will continue rowing at the University of Wisconsin. “It has given back to me much more than I could have ever anticipated. I’m extremely happy with the results so far. Rowing has shown me how to work hard, not only on the water, but also academically.”
Mink joined Peter Tortora, Alex Buck and Jonathon Rosow on the team that cruised to victory at last year’s nationals. Mink, the only returning member of the team, will be joined by Mike Senf, Glen Wolyner and Stephan Gerasimoff this year.
“Last year we had a very strong boat, and Rosow had been in the quad that won it the year before,’’ Mink said. “We’re going to get there again this year, but against all these other great crews it’s going to be difficult.”
Mink played baseball, squash and football before turning his attention to rowing full time. He played on some outstanding New Canaan youth baseball teams and loved the sport. But he knew he needed to devote himself to rowing.
“I knew that rowing was hard and that if I was going to become good at it, I had to make the commitment,’’ Mink said. “Really, it was a no-brainer. I knew I wanted to do it. Sometimes I think it would be fun to go back to baseball. A lot of my friends on my teams in elementary and middle school are still playing. I knew rowing was the best choice for me though.”
Former New Canaan Crew members Charlie Kelly, Will Danneman and his brother, Tyler, provided inspiration as he was coming through the ranks, Mink said. He has not only lived up to the team’s demanding standards, he has also exceeded them.
“Getting to see them win at nationals was an awesome thing to see,’’ Mink said. “It motivated me to want to get there, too.”
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