Regatta calls rowers to New Jersey

| Thursday, May 31, 2012, 8:23 a.m.

The Scholastic Rowing Association of America held its championship regatta in Camden, N.J., last Friday and Saturday, with a handful of local teams vying to win one of the two biggest titles in high school crew.

Teams advanced to the SRAA regatta -- featuring more than 3,600 rowers -- with first-place finishes at one of six qualifying races, each in a different part of the country. For local teams, that meant a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, May 11-13 for the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championships.

Central Catholic won an area-best four gold medals at the Midwest championships, which meant the Vikings hauled four boats to New Jersey: a men's freshman eight, a men's junior eight, a men's varsity eight and a men's varsity second eight.

The second eight took second place with a time of 4 minutes, 32.039 seconds, while the freshmen eight was third in 4:36.396. The varsity eight was fifth (4:25.502), and the junior eight was stopped in the semifinals.

Coxswains for those four boats were Nick Nejak, Alex Miklasevich, Christian Wawrzonek and Liam Garrity, respectively.

All races covered 1,500 meters.

North Allegheny won three gold medals, but Tigers Coach Gary Schermer chose only to take his men's and women's junior quad boats -- which Central Catholic actually offered to tow, a stark contrast to the heated football rivalry between the two schools.

Schermer wanted to rest his men's varsity quad for the U.S. Rowing national regatta in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on June 8, the other end-of-year championship race.

But unfortunately for the Tigers, the North Allegheny men's and women's junior quads failed to make it out of the preliminary heats. The same went for Pine-Richland's men's junior quad.

"I'm constantly telling the kids, the current race is just a prep race for the next one," Schermer said. "So we're looking forward to going through the process all over again and hopefully going back to the championships."

The women's junior quad consisted of Julianna Malachin, Alana Marin, Jackie Dallier and Leah Griffin, while the men's junior quad included David Tallman, Aodhan Ridenour, Derek Coleman and Justin Kim.

John Rectenwald, Nick Neugebauer, Jake Lennon and Sam Sheridan comprise the men's varsity quad for North Allegheny.

The Emily Opperman-directed lightweight four from North Catholic was fifth in its semifinal heat, while the Hampton women's varsity four -- Jordan Bamrick was the coxswain -- took third in 5:33.925.

Other boat members for Hampton included Kelley Bittner, Kate Dukovich, Emily Wilson and Jess Garver.

"After the win at the Midwest Championships, we knew they would do pretty well as long as they did their thing," said Hampton coach Peter Alter, who recently wrapped up a four-year career as a member of Pitt's crew team. "We were very happy with the result."

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