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Central Catholic, North Allegheny rowing teams capture gold in N.J.

| Thursday, May 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
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Members of Central Catholic's Varsity 1 eight-man boat include in front, team captain David McFall. In back, from left, are coach Alan Menninghaus, CCHS Oarsmen Jake Wiedemer, Alex Miklasevich, Nic Jedema, Michael Grady, Chuck Russell, Lucas Peilert, Matthew Kreps and Alex Butler and head coach Jay Hammond.

Members of the Central Catholic and North Allegheny rowing teams will be seeking second-consecutive wins in national competition at the USRowing Youth National Championships, to be held June 7-9 in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Central Catholic took first place in men's varsity eight plus at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America National Regatta in Camden County, N.J., last weekend. North Allegheny won in men's lightweight two.

Both boats qualified for the national meets after competing at the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championships at Dillon State Park in Ohio.

“At scholastic nationals, most of the teams were from the East,” said North Allegheny senior Sam Sheridan. “At youth nationals, there will be teams from the middle part of the country and the West Coast, which makes it tougher.”

“Youth nationals are more club-oriented; there aren't just high school teams,” said Central Catholic junior Lucas Peilert.

“A lot of clubs are centered on the West Coast. It will be interesting to see how we do against them.”

Finishing in four minutes, 15.026 seconds, Central Catholic won by less than a second over runner-up St. Joseph's Prep of Philadelphia (4:15.387) at the scholastic national championships.

“I was shocked when we crossed the finish line and saw we had won,” said senior coxswain David McFall. “I had competed at nationals twice before, but never won a medal.”

Besides Peilert and McFall, competing for the Vikings were Jake Wiedemer, Matthew Kreps, Nic Jedema, Chuck Russell, Michael Grady, Alex Butler and Alex Miklasevich.

The boat was the first in the 20-year history of the Central Catholic rowing program to capture a national gold medal, said principal Robert Schaefer.

“I was proud of the boys for beating programs that have been around (for years),” Schaefer said.

North Allegheny (5:10.925) also won by less than a second, with Sheridan and junior Justin Kim becoming the first in school history to claim a gold medal in national competition in men's lightweight two.

“We've had other gold medalists since 1984, but none in that event,” coach Megan Batykefer said.

Besides gold, Central Catholic and North Allegheny collected medals in two other events at the scholastic national championships.

In men's varsity second eight plus, Central Catholic (4:27.828) settled for silver after barely losing to La Salle of the Philadelphia area (4:27.753).

Sean Craska, Liam Lampenfeld, Devon Kaplan, Mike Begg, Cameron Johnson, Jay Maier, Joe Monahan, Liam Garrity and Jeff Cao rowed for the Vikings.

With Aaron Reckless, Wyatt Weaver, Dylan Reffitt and Zach Springer competing, North Allegheny won a bronze medal in men's junior varsity four.

“I was happy just to have qualified for nationals,” said senior Kaitlyn Clem, a member of the North Allegheny women's team. “I can imagine how exciting it must have been to have won.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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