Canisius rowing flexed its muscles at the Fontana All-High Regatta Monday afternoon at the West Side Rowing Club, where the Crusaders won seven of nine boys events and totaled 195 points to cruise to the title.
St. Joe’s was a distant second, compiling 99 points, and Nichols took third with 30.
“It seemed like they had some heart,” Canisius coach Tom Flaherty said of his rowers. “We love to compete and that’s why we’re here.”
On the girls’ side, West Side’s Senior Eight won the final event to jump ahead of Nardin and take the title, 111-106. Mount St. Mary took third with 53 points in its first year fielding the sport.
An estimated 1,500 took in the event, which is the largest regatta of the year that features only local high school teams.
“It’s an opportunity for Buffalo to showcase our sport,” Flaherty said. “It’s also an opportunity for the fans and the families that have been involved in rowing for years. I saw so many people here today that I haven’t seen for 20, 25 years. It makes it really worthwhile.”
Canisius dominated the boys’ side of the regatta, finishing less than five seconds behind in the events it didn’t win and capturing both first- and second-place finishes three times.
The boys Senior Eight race came down to the wire as two Canisius boats battled with each other for first place. The Crusaders’ Lightweight Eight led late but were passed at the finish by the Senior Eight, who completed the 1,500-meter race in 5 minutes, 30.20 seconds – winning by a margin of 0.66 seconds. St. Joe’s was third in 5:53.57.
Canisius’ Senior Eight boat – manned by Joseph Ebner, Mark Saltorelli, David McCormick, Max Paterson, David Militello, Brian Hamp, Mike Battaglia, Ryan Flynn, and coxswain Jake Filby – will compete in the US Rowing Youth National Championships in Sacramento, Calif. next month. Canisius’ Lightweight Eight has qualified as well, and they’ll be joined there by West Side’s girls Senior Four boat.
West Side’s junior teams are generally comprised of rowers whose schools do not field the sport.
“The commitment level of this group is through the roof,” West Side coach Justin Farrington said of his Senior Four boat, a team made up of Emily Evans, Emily Radziwon, Ashley Johnson, Kendal Smith, Erika Lister and Claire Conrad (coxswain), including an alternate.
“A lot of other programs, we hear, ‘I can’t make it to practice because of this thing I have going on,’ and this group is very self-driven,” Farrington added. They’ll instead say things like: ‘Hey, I’ve got this thing going on, we need to switch practice because I can’t get out of it.’ The strokes are what’s important and they’re very self-motivated that way.”
Mount St. Mary rowers had an impressive showing Monday, winning the girls Junior Eight and Freshman Four races.
When Holy Angels closed in June, a handful of rowers transferred to Mount and the coaching staff came over too.
“It was a seamless move,” Mount St. Mary coach Kevin Nugent said. “Mount and Holy Angels worked together to ensure the program would move over and it was very successful.”
Nugent said the turnout for the program at Mount was higher than expected.
Monday, he put his Novice Eight in the junior race to get them ready for the competition they’ll see at a Canadian regatta in two weeks, and they won the race.
“They did extremely well and won with open water between them and the other boats,” he said.