Locals impressive in national rowing

Hay, Asbury develop into close friends

A pair of 17-year-olds, one a Concord Hills resident and the other a 2017 Hardin Valley Academy graduate, have jelled into a strong rowing doubles tandem after “coach put us in a boat one day and we just kind of clicked.”

That’s how Allie Asbury, HVA Class of 2017, describes how she got paired with Clara Hay on the Atomic Rowing team last fall under coach Shannon Moore.

On top of them building “a really close relationship” according to Asbury, the duo placed in the top-20 in Head of the Hooch, “the second largest regatta in the country. It has the most competitors,” Hay said about the annual fall regatta in Chattanooga.

That finish in doubles [two oars for each rower], along with earning a “gold medal” for a first-place showing in Secret City Head Race on Melton Hill Lake last fall, highlighted the duo’s fall season accomplishments.

However, Asbury was even more thrilled the pair qualified for United States Rowing Youth National Championships in Sarasota, Florida., last weekend as one of the nation’s top 15 female doubles rowers.

“It’s a big deal to make it to nationals … I’m kind of amazed. This has been the biggest event for me,” Asbury said after a third-place finish during Southeast Youth Championships in Gainesville, Georgia, last month qualified them for nationals, where they finished 11th after the three-day event Friday through Sunday, June 9-11.

“We’re really happy with that,” Hay, a rowing athlete for about five years, said. “This is [Asbury’s] first time at nationals and my second time at nationals.”

“They’ve essentially been training since August of last year in preparation for this,” club coach Evelyn Radford said about the pair. “It’s a testament to Clara because she qualified last year in pairs [two-persons with only one oar each], which is really cool for her to qualify two times in a row.”

“Overall, these two seasons [with Hay] have been great for me,” said Asbury, who’s been rowing about two-and-a-half years.

Also highlighting spring season, “We got gold at Clemson [South Carolina] … it was a heat race,” Asbury said.

The duo also finished first in Tennessee Sprint Series, a “coaches regatta” in Chattanooga during the spring.

Asbury will attend The University of Tennessee Knoxville. “I am going to try out for the Varsity [Rowing] team over the summer,” she said.

Hay is a rising senior at Knoxville Catholic High School.

“I played soccer for a long time before I started rowing,” Hay, who this summer is swimming for Concord Hills community team, said.

“My dad [Jack Hay] was looking for something for me to get into. I wanted to do soccer [year round], but my parents weren’t quite ready for me to go year-round.

“And my dad thought that I was built for rowing, so he decided to take me out to Oak Ridge one day and try it,” Hay added.

However, “I was adamantly opposed at first, I did not want to row,” Hay said.

Before long, though, with Hay rowing and playing soccer, “when I did one I loved it, and when I did the other I loved it,” she said.

Asbury said about her early years of rowing with another friend who also played soccer, “we used it to stay in shape for soccer.”

However, after 13 years of playing soccer, Asbury said she quit following her junior season as an HVA Lady Hawk “because I loved rowing so much and because I was getting hurt” in soccer.

Looking ahead, Hay said, “I would like to row in college. I would hopefully like to get a scholarship somewhere rowing.”