Central Catholic rowers seeking bid to world competition

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Four Central Catholic rowers are trying out for a national team that will represent America at the World Junior Championships, to be held Aug. 6-10 in Hamburg, Germany.

Michael Grady, Alex Miklasevich and Lucas Peilert were invited to the U.S. Junior National Team Men's Sweep Selection camp at Three Rivers Rowing in Millvale and on Washington's Landing that began last week.

Oarsmen and coxswains will be picked to fill men's 8+, 4- and spare 2- crews, said Steve Hargis, junior national team development coach.

Central Catholic rower Kevin Costello, part of a High Performance camp, is contending for a spot on 4+.

About 80 athletes were invited to the two camps.

Team members will be announced by July 6, Hargis said.

Three Rivers Rowing coach Rick Brown said it is the second straight year tryouts are being held in Pittsburgh.

Grady, Miklasevich and Costello, all juniors, and Peilert, a senior, were on a Central Catholic boat that finished fourth in the Men's Youth 8+ A final at the USRowing Youth National Championships in Rancho Cordova, Calif. this month.

Competing in Trakai, Lithuania last year, Grady and Miklasevich (eighth in 8+) and Jake Wiedemer (seventh in 4+) were the first Central Catholic rowers to reach the World Championships.

Brown, who is helping coach the national team, expects Grady and Miklasevich to be serious contenders for spots on the 4- or 8+ boat.

Miklasevich said, though, it will be difficult to qualify again.

“Rowing at Worlds last summer gives me confidence, (but) nothing is set before camp, and everyone here is working toward the same goal,” he said. “I am going to have to work tremendously hard.”

Hoping to make the team for the first time, Costello and Peilert consider Grady and Miklasevich role models.

“They had a really great time and received awesome coaching in the process,” Costello said. “Rowing at Worlds is the highest level of competition, which is exactly where I want to be.”

“I knew I had to stay in the mix with guys returning from Junior Worlds, and I used them as a benchmark to ensure I'd be invited to the (selection) camp,” said Peilert, who was on a Junior Worlds Development Team that scrimmaged in small boats in Banyoles, Spain last summer.

“All winter long, I knew if I could beat them, I'd at least earn an invite to selection camp.”

Peilert, whose father is from Germany, looks forward to the possibility of competing in front of relatives at Worlds. He expects the selection camp to benefit him as a member of the Yale University heavyweight crew in the fall.

“The camp will help me to anticipate the high level of competition that I'm sure I'll see at Yale,” Peilert said. “Most of my teammates will have been involved in the national team for the U.S. or other countries, so it is good to have that experience.”

Central Catholic coach Jay Hammond said attending camps is good for high school rowers, who return stronger and more confident.

“These camps give the guys access to really good coaches and allow the guys to compete against, and learn from, other really talented U.S oarsmen,” Hammond said. “If they make a team that competes internationally, they get the opportunity to race against other really good guys, which can be a real eye-opener in terms of just how fast they need to go and can, in fact, go.”

John Peilert, the Vikings' youngest camper so far, will attend the Men's Junior B Development Camp at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Peilert, Lucas' brother, was on men's freshmen 8+ that finished second at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Championships in West Windsor, N.J. last month.

“I am eager to see the rowers that other crews send (and) getting some good training in,” Peilert said.

John Peilert is one of two area boys attending a development camp. Ben Akers, who will be a junior at Winchester Thurston, was invited to the Men's Sculling Development Camp being held at Steel City Rowing in Verona.

A member of the Steel City junior team, Akers was on a Men's Youth 2x boat that reached the consolation finals at the USRowing Youth National Championships.

Coach Dori Tompa said Steel City has hosted the camp every year since 2011.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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