Upper St. Clair grad Lazur helps Ohio State to NCAA rowing title
As recently as less than six years ago as a high school freshman, Victoria Lazur had never heard of the sport of rowing.
As Lazur was making her college decision less than two years back, Ohio State wasn't necessarily initially her top choice.
If electing to pursue rowing isn't one of the best things to happen to the Upper St. Clair native, choosing to become a Buckeye was.
“Ohio State was a very spur-of-the-moment decision,” Lazur said. “But it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
It helped make Lazur — and her Buckeyes — national champions.
Lazur served as coxswain on Ohio State's top boat as a sophomore. Her season was capped when the Buckeyes women's rowing team claimed the NCAA national championship this past weekend at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.
“That was awesome,” Lazur said. “It was everything we worked for for the last two years, so it was really cool it finally happened.”
The NCAA championship was not only the first for his program, it's the first for any Big Ten rowing program and the first for any women's athletic program at Ohio State.
“A whole bunch of firsts,” Ohio State coach Andy Teitelbaum said. “A whole lot of history got made (Sunday).”
The boat Lazur was on, the first varsity eight, placed third at the NCAA team championships with a time of 6 minutes, 23.19 seconds. The Buckeyes' second varsity eight and first varsity four both won their races, but the first varsity eight is the final competition — and the one most weighted when it comes to determining a champion.
“You see the first two boats come down, and you're excited and saying, ‘OK, we're in pretty good shape,' ” Lazur said. “But we knew we had to finish at least in the top three to win, so there's a lot of pressure to kind of make sure you do that.”
The coxswain sits in the last seat of the boat and is the only one facing forward. She is the primary communicator to the rest of the boat, akin the captain of the small “ship.”
“You need to be very smart,” Teitelbaum said. “And you need to be a good leader.”
Part of a strong recruiting class of coxswains, Lazur was on the second varsity eight throughout her freshman year.
Her high school career quickly took off after attending an Upper St. Clair practice one day on something of a whim after a suggestion from her parents.
At 5-foot-2, her size made her well-fit to be a coxswain. As her coaches and teammates soon found out, so did her intelligence and leadership skills. Among Lazur's accomplishments in high school were captaining a crew to a first-place finish in the women's junior varsity four at the Mercyhurst Prep Invitational in 2010 and finishing first in a women's coxswains race at the Pittsburgh Indoor Rowing Championship later that year.
“More than anything with Tori, early on we identified her energy and emotion,” Teitelbaum said. “She's worked well with the rest of the team, and we've taken advantage of that.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.