North Allegheny grad Zach Petronic excels at USRowing Nationals
North Allegheny graduate and McCandless rower Zach Petronic has had to make changes, and it’s paying off.
Petronic, 27, took first place in the men’s intermediate 1x final at the USRowing National Championships on July 9-14 in Bethel, Ohio.
“I’ve had to learn a lot about balancing the workload and recovery in the past four years,” said Petronic, a former U.S. national team member who competed twice at the World University Games. “Building a bigger base that gets accumulated over years.
“Thanks to my coach, Dan Grancea, I learned a lot about how to take better care of my body and listen to it. I got slower for a few years as I made adjustments.”
Petronic, 6-foot-4, 183 pounds, was surprised by his win at nationals.
“I had very tough competition from the USRowing Oakland (Calif.) Training Center athletes, two guys who I was just going back and forth with all weekend in every event I was entered,” said Petronic, who has two semesters left to earn a degree at Pitt. “It was exciting that I was able to execute a good race, get out in front of the field and be able to hang on to it.”
Petronic placed third in a time trial (7 minutes, 13.781 seconds) and third in the semifinals (7:25.25) on the 2,000- meter course, just making the final.
He won the final (7:14.61) by close to five seconds.
Petronic has been invited to train at the USRowing National High Performance Center in Oklahoma City.
Reilly Dampeer, the center’s head coach, said Petronic was invited based on his performance and improvement in the past few years.
“I look forward to working with him,” Dampeer said.
Petronic said he hopes to squeak in a spot at next year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
“Hopefully, my move to Oklahoma City and the High Performance Center will help push me there,” Petronic said. “If not, I am still planning to continue until the 2024 (Olympic) Games.”
Petronic plans to compete at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta on Aug. 6-11 in St. Catharines, Ontario, which he said attracts some very high-level competition and is one of his favorite races on a beautiful course.
Petronic praised Kristi Bushman, his training partner, who won in a women’s intermediate lightweight single at nationals, and North Park.
“North Park has been invaluable for the past year,” Petronic said. “With the constant deluge of rain we seem to be getting, the river has been too high and unpredictable to consistently row on.
“North Park is a small lake, but it’s just big enough to be worthwhile with small racing sculls. I was able to train on the rainiest days, the coldest days and the windiest days that would (have) made the river far too dangerous.”
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.