Notre Dame Academy senior Lia Snell, front, helps her team put a shell into the Maumee River for a practice session in preparation for a national tournament in New York.
St. Ursula and Notre Dame are on board together. Likewise, St. John's and Central Catholic are rowing in the same direction.
Natural rivals in perhaps every other City League sport, local rowing teams, in many ways, will be a cohesive unit today when they make a 10-hour trek to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for the Scholastic Rowing Association of America nationals Friday and Saturday.
Not only do these teams represent their respective schools; they represent the Toledo Rowing Club, and the Maumee River. It's a rare situation, one more likely found in a niche sport like rowing than ones with more venomous roots.
All of the area teams under the envelope of the Toledo Rowing Club share practice time and space, and a boathouse along the Maumee River near The Docks.
"Most of the time, all the teams are down there practicing together, so it definitely creates a good bond, that whenever you go to regattas you're never alone," St. Ursula assistant coach Cynthia Marley said.
St. Ursula, Notre Dame, St. John's, Central Catholic, and Anthony Wayne all have at least one boat in the 76th annual regatta, which will be contested in Fish Creek, in southwest New York .
St. Ursula leads among area teams, qualifying three boats at the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championships earlier this month.
Six St. Ursula rowers competing this weekend were in the same boat a year ago that won the Junior 8 division national championship - the school's second national championship in three years. This year, the Arrows will compete in Varsity 4, Junior 8, and Freshman 8.
The Varsity 4 group of Elyse Kortier, Maggy Peatee, Erin Sheehan, Megan Bodie, and coxswain Sydney Kanjuparamban, won gold medals last year. "We know there's still a lot of hard work to be done because we know that nationals has the best competi-tion that comes from all over the country," Marley said.
Notre Dame qualified Varsity 8 and Lightweight 4, but because four of its athletes compete in both events, coach Pete Fox elected to race only the Varsity 8. "Our first goal is to make the finals - to be in the top six - and I think we have a really, really strong chance of reaching that goal," Fox said. "There has been a couple of boats over the past couple of weeks that have been a little bit faster, but we've gotten faster over the past couple of weeks too, so I like our chances."
Illustrating that St. Ursula and Notre Dame truly get along, Fox says St. Ursula head coach Neil McElroy is one of his best friends. Fox, McElroy, and St. Francis coach Chris Abele all competed at St. John's under McElroy's father, Rod McElroy, who still coaches the Titans.
St. John's will bring its Junior 8 team, which Rod says must compete with great strength to off-balance a lack of size.
"We've got a good bunch of guys," Rod McElroy said. "They work together, they row well together. They won't leave anything on the water, I guarantee that."
The Titans are the only area boys team making the trip. Anthony Wayne will race its Lightweight 4 and Junior 4, and Central Catholic will race its Junior 4.
St. Francis and the Toledo Metropolitan Rowing Club - comprised of high school athletes from area schools such as Perrysburg, Northview, and Southview - belong to the Toledo Rowing Club. An array of travel costs will be paid for by the club, which raises money through fund-raisers. And then there are the boats, some costing as much as $33,000, that the club must purchase. So in many respects, the high schools are in this together. "There's obviously a rivalry, but it's a sport where there's a lot of hard work to get to and from events, and each team is more than willing to help out the other team when they need something," Fox said.
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