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North Allegheny rowers excell at US Rowing Youth Nationals

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

How has the North Allegheny Rowing Association reached national-level success?

Perhaps the best manifestation to explain why was in how the team reacted to achieving it.

North Allegheny placed three boats among the top five in their respective races at the US Rowing Youth National Championships this past weekend in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The finals were Sunday morning, followed by travel that made for a late-night arrival back home. But instead of taking a day to celebrate — or even just merely relax — the team was right back on the water for its early-morning practice routine Monday.

“We got in last night at 11 and we were up a few hours later for practice this morning,” coach Megan Batykefer said by phone Monday afternoon.

“This sport takes a lot of dedication to do well at, and I think it shows they all have it based on the fact all of them made it to that kind of race (nationals) and sucked it up and did it again the next morning.”

North Allegheny's boat in the Men's Youth Varsity Quad took fourth place in the “C” Final at youth nationals. The organization's Men's Lightweight Double placed fifth in the “C” Final and the Women's Lightweight Double fifth in the “B” final.

“We definitely set a standard that we hope to meet and exceed for years to come,” Batykefer said.

The appearance in the Men's Lightweight Double at nationals was the first in the history of the North Allegheny program, according to Batykefer. All boats that make it to the invitation-only youth nationals had to qualify via other regattas throughout the spring.

“We always have to keep it in mind at every regatta, get faster and faster times, keeping in mind the competition and nationals being something we're constantly working towards,” Batykefer said.

Also, Batykefer said, the strong performance of the lightweight boats was notable because they were generally going up against heavier competition because of a lower weight limit throughout the season. Plus, the men's quad boat was manned by all juniors — most of the other finalists typically were mostly seniors.

Juniors Aodhan Ridenour, Braedon Jelinek, Derek Coleman and David Tallman rode on the men's quad boat, senior team captain Sam Sheridan and junior Justin Kim were on the men's lightweight double and seniors Heather Ott and Gillian Lawhead comprised the women's lightweight double.

Among North Allegheny's other highlights this season was having every member of the team medal at the Three Rivers Rowing Association Scholastic Sprints last month. North Allegheny also had a strong showing at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America national championships last month, earning a bronze in the JV Four and a gold in the Varsity Men's Double.

A former North Allegheny rowing standout herself who is in her first season in her second stint as the team's coach, Batykefer said this group's underclassmen have an opportunity to achieve even more in the future.

“They are 100 percent on the radar for a repeat trip to this race, and we're going to go in and try to get better placement next year than they did this year,” Batykefer said.

Central Catholic also took it's 1V boat to the Rowing Youth Nationals, and the group finished fifth in 6:04 on the 2,000-meter course. The crew included Alex Butler, Matt Kreps, Lucas Peilert, Chuck Russell, Matt Grady, Nic Jedema, Alex Miklasevich, Jake Wiedemer and David McFall.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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