Central Catholic rowers selected to Junior National Team

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

For the second consecutive year, three Central Catholic rowers have been picked for a team that will represent the United States from Aug. 6 to 10 at the World Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany.

Michael Grady of Bradford Woods and Alex Miklasevich of Forest Hills, who will be seniors, are returning to the Junior National Team. Lucas Peilert of Sewickley, who graduated and will row at Yale University in the fall, is on the squad for the first time.

The three recently participated in a men's sweep selection camp at Three Rivers Rowing in Millvale and on Washington's Landing.

Miklasevich has been assigned the third seat in the Men's 4- boat; Peilert (bow) and Grady (third seat) will row in Men's 8+.

Kevin Costello of Churchill, who will be a senior at Central Catholic, attended a High Performance Camp and raced in several boats as part of a team that competed at the USRowing Club National Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn. last week.

Three Rivers Rowing junior coach Rick Brown will guide Men's 4+ as a member of the Junior National Team coaching staff.

Steve Hargis, head coach of U.S. Junior National Team Development, said Central Catholic rowers have shown more interest in joining the Junior National Team in recent years.

Miklasevich and Grady were on the Men's 4+ that finished eighth in Trakai, Lithuania, last year. Jake Wiedemer (seventh in Men's 8+) also competed.

It marked the first time Central Catholic rowers reached the world championships.

“(Central Catholic) athletes are well prepared for this challenge through great coaches who encourage and support their participation,” said Hargis, who will coach Men's 8+. “I really enjoy working with Alex, Michael and Lucas (as team development coach).

“They are great athletes (and) excellent teammates (who) represent their school, program and families well.”

Miklasevich and Grady, both 17, expect improvement.

“It will be great going into this world championship with prior experience,” Miklasevich said. “Just (having) an understanding of how competitive it will be will be very helpful.

“The biggest lesson I learned is that it doesn't matter what event you are in, everyone is fighting to win a (medal).”

“Racing at worlds is a whole new level of intensity,” Grady said. “You need to be cool and collected, yet be able to flip the switch at any moment.”

Peilert, whose father is from Germany, is looking forward to competing in front of relatives.

“I am so excited and honored to have been selected,” said Peilert, 18, who was on the Junior Worlds Development Team that scrimmaged last year in small boats in Banyoles, Spain. “Since my first few years as a rower, representing the U.S. always has been a goal and dream of mine.

“I used this winter and spring to really put the pedal to metal with my training to improve my chances. When the rowers from all over the country showed up for selection camp, it was intimidating, but I managed to come out on top.”

Central Catholic coach Jay Hammond expects the rowers to benefit from their experiences.

“Postseason training and racing (are) really helpful, especially when done at an international level,” he said.

Costello, who hopes to compete internationally one day, said he gained valuable experience as a member of the High Performance Team.

“Being part of the squad has taught me how to respond to different styles of coaching, which is something I'll be able to use the rest of my career,” he said.

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

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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