Central Biathlon benefits Rowership Fund
For the second consecutive year, a fund that honors a Fox Chapel man and provides rowing scholarships to Central Catholic students benefited from a rowing and running event the school held.
Central Catholic Crew board president Michael O'Malley said the Central Biathlon on Dec. 10 at the Three Rivers Rowing Association boathouse on Washington's Landing raised about $500 for the John F. Hammond Rowership Fund.
Hammond, 44, whose nickname is Jay, has coached the Vikings since fall 2002. Under him, the program has prospered, and the Vikings have had success in major regattas across the country.
In spring 2013, their first varsity eight reached the Grand Final and were gold medalists at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Regatta.
O'Malley, of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, said the fund was established in 2015 to preserve and expand Hammond's contribution to the program.
So far, it has raised a little more than $3,000 and distributed three scholarships.
“The fund is important because it serves to support the sport of rowing at Central Catholic and can be used to help families pay the club dues, (which) are not insignificant,” Hammond said.
Hammond, an attorney, started the Central Biathlon in 2002, patterning it after an event at Harvard, where he was on the heavyweight crew.
It features competition for men and women, high school boys and girls and novices. One-time USRowing national team member Zach Petronic, 25, of McCandless was among competitors this year.
Petronic completed 10,000 meters on an ergometer in 32 minutes, 1 second and a six-mile run in 42:41 in a total time of 1:14:42 to defend his title in the men and high school varsity boys event.
His overall time was just short of a meet record set in 2011.
He was one of 104 finishers in his division.
“This event is great,” said Petronic, a Pitt student who competed at the World University Games in 2013 and 2015. “The atmosphere is different from a normal crew event, especially the indoor 2,000-meter races.
“The nerves aren't as high because it's more of a fun break from training, although it is very competitive. I love it because it's a real test of where your endurance is, which is what everyone should be working on this time of year.
“Jay Hammond really brings the event alive with his enthusiasm.”
Hammond said a large number of Central Catholic alumni who rowed in college also participated.
Donations to the John F. Hammond Rowership Fund can be sent in care of Central Catholic High School, 4720 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.