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Central grad Tranel, a 2-time Olympian, keeping her oars in the water
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Central grad Tranel, a 2-time Olympian, keeping her oars in the water

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HELENA -- Helena’s Monica Tranel is 15 years removed from rowing in the Olympic Games, but that hasn't stopped her from keeping her oars in the water.

Tranel, 49, a two-time Olympian and graduate of Billings Central, recently placed 23rd in her division at the Head of the Charles Rowing Regatta in Cambridge, Mass. Competing against 29 other rowers in the Senior Masters (40-49) singles division, she traversed the 3-mile course on the Charles River in 24 minutes, 53 seconds.

"I felt great and had a fun race," she said. "I finished 11th on raw time, which I was happy with, but there are six bridges and lots of turns on the course. I missed a bridge arch, which cost me time, but overall I was happy with the results. I love coming home to Montana."

Tranel competed in basketball and track at Central. She started rowing at Gonzaga University as a freshman in 1984 under the tutelage of coach Nelson Miller.

In 1993, competing for the U.S. rowing team, she earned a bronze medal in the women’s coxed fours at the Racice (Czechoslovakia) World Rowing Championships. The next year, she claimed two silver medals at Indianapolis’ World Rowing Regatta, in the women’s fours and women’s eights.

At the 1995 World Rowing Championships, Tranel was part of the U.S. World Championship women’s coxed eights team on Lake Kaukajarvi in Tampere, Finland. She also captured silver with the women’s eights at the World Championships at the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course in Saint Catharines, Ontario.

Tranel qualified for both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. At the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, her American team just missed a bronze medal, finishing fourth in the women’s eights on Lake Lanier. And in Sydney, Australia, in 2000, she placed 12th in the women's singles scull race.

Tranel has lived all but two of the past 14 years in Helena.

A versatile athlete, in addition to her rowing workouts, she’s also heavily into Crossfit training.

“I’m (also) an avid mountain biker; I participated in the Butte 100 this summer,” she said, and also spends time on “skate skiing, hockey, hiking on Mount Helena and road biking."

When the lake isn’t frozen over, she keeps her single (shell) “out on Lake Helena, and I row three to four times per week, about 10K per row.”

Tranel’s recent venture to the Charles River is the latest of her numerous adventures in the Head of the Charles Regatta. She won the HOTC championship in 1993 and was second in 1995.

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