Rowers with ties to Ithaca and Syracuse, competing for U.S.A and Canada, win gold and silver medals in Olympic women's rowing

The women's eight rowing battle between U.S.A. and Canada, with ties to Central New York in both boats, ended in a thrilling US victory Thursday morning.

As great as the North American rivalry already is, the Syracuse University and Ithaca connections involved made this an even more intriguing race to those watching from Central New York.

Ithaca native Caryn Davies and Ithaca College graduate Meghan Muscniki won the gold medal in the US boat, leading much of the race.

Competing for Canada, Naples native and Syracuse University rower Natalie Mastracci and her boat made a late push at the end, but the Americans were too much. The US boat forced Mastracci and Canada to settle for the silver medal.

"Our coach frequently tells us that you don't get a lot of moments like this," says Mastracci. "We all take the time to not only realize how blessed we are, but also being able to row with amazing people every day."

The US women's eight squad also won the gold medal in 2008.

It's the third Olympic medal for the 30-year-old Davies. She won silver in 2004 in Athens and gold four years ago in Beijing as a member of the women's eight.

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