Last month, Clarence native Cornelia Willis graduated from the University at Buffalo. Next month, she'll be heading to Lithuania as part of Team USA in the World Rowing Under 23 Championships.
Willis will represent Team USA in the Women's Lighweight quad after her boat won its qualifying race today at the Under 23 World Championship Trials at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. Her boat, from GMS Rowing out of Connecticut, won in 6:46.799.
Willis, who was a biology major at UB, had never sculled before attending her club camp in Connecticut. At Buffalo, she did sweep rowing, where athletes are responsible for only one oar. In sculling, each rower is responsible for two oars.
“From my understanding, this is the first UB rower to ever represent USA in the World Championships, which is obviously an unbelievable accomplishment for Cornelia,” said lightweight coach Kerri Kanaley in a UB press release. “I have been fortunate enough to be her coach over the last three years and I don’t know anyone who deserves it more. She is an incredible student-athlete and has more heart than anyone I know. Proud isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I feel today, and I am just so happy for her.”
The World Rowing Under 23 Championships will be held July 11-15.
--- Amy Moritz