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Central Catholic rowers headed to California

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

After a disappointing finish at the scholastic national regatta, members of a Central Catholic boat will be seeking improvement at the USRowing Youth National Championships in Rancho Cordova, Calif. next week.

The Vikings, who finished third, failed to defend their title at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Championships in West Windsor, N.J., from May 23 to 24.

“We will need to do a lot of work to make sure that we can maintain speed for the longer race,” said coach Jay Hammond, noting the course will be 2,000 meters instead of the 1,500 at the scholastic championships. “This will involve a lot of longer bouts of work.”

Hammond expects the boat, which finished fifth a year ago, to be in medal contention.

“All four crews that beat us last year at youth nationals were from places where year-round water training is possible,” Hammond said, referring to California and Florida. “I think we can overcome this because our guys are very, very good, but we will need to have a very good week or two of training.”

After a strong start, Central Catholic (4 minutes, 29.638 seconds) was sluggish in the scholastic national final, where it trailed Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. (4:24.928) and St. Joseph's Prep of Philadelphia (4:27.278).

“We really felt like we underperformed,” senior co-captain Lucas Peilert said. “We had built up a lot of good momentum, posting the fastest times of the regatta in the heats and (semifinals).

“Instead of continuing to improve, we found we had pushed ourselves too hard in the earlier racing and didn't race to our potential. We will have to learn from the mistakes to make a serious run at youth nationals.”

Senior Jake Wiedemer, senior Matt Kreps, senior Alex Butler, junior Devin Kaplan, junior Alex Miklasevich, junior Kevin Costello, junior Michael Grady and senior Jeffrey Cao also rowed.

The boat was one of three from Central Catholic that earned medals at the scholastic championships.

Second varsity 8+ captured gold after finishing second the previous two years (4:36.572).

“I could tell we really wanted to win when we put that boat on the water,” said senior Zachary Volosky, a silver medalist as a sophomore.

Besides Volosky, the crew included junior Edoardo Frezza, junior Nic Pereira, senior Jay Maier, junior Rob Barringer, sophomore Matthew Pilewski, sophomore Shane Burke, sophomore Daniel Wisniewski and junior Nick Okwiya.

John Peilert said he and Nick Fratto, Ethan Ray, Carl Buck, Anicet Mundundu, Trent Uhlemann, Jack Maier, Jordan Croll and David Mitchell look forward to moving to varsity after finishing second in men's freshmen 8+.

“A silver medal at (the) national level sets the tone to work harder,” said Peilert, Lucas' brother.

North Allegheny also reached the finals in three events.

Juniors Lydia Schweiger, Katie Jones and Sarah Heastings and sophomores Renee Noel and Emily Guckert won a bronze medal in women's junior varsity 4+ (5:47.078), which coach Todd Ridenour considered a big achievement.

“The competition was fierce,” Ridenour said. “I think they just wanted to win more.”

Seniors Leah Griffin, Julianna Malachin and Jessica Goldstein and junior Karley Whelan placed fourth in women's varsity 4x (5:37.809).

In men's competition, seniors Aodhan Ridenour, Braedon Jelinek, David Tallman and Derek Coleman finished sixth in men's varsity 4x (5:03.242).

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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