By Miguel Rodriguez
News sports reporter
Sally Rozumalski’s path to Louisville began four years ago with a simple glance to the water.
She was being driven home to Niagara Falls by her dad after a club team swimming practice in downtown Buffalo when she first saw the rowers and their boats moving along Black Rock channel.
“I looked at him and I thought, I think I can do that,” the Niagara-Wheatfield senior said. “I ended up taking a tour the next day and I started two days after that. It just kind of happened to be, I guess.”
Turns out Rozumalski is a natural at the sport – so much so that in her first season rowing for West Side Rowing Club juniors, she earned a starting spot and helped her freshman-eight boat win the gold medal at the state championships.
Last weekend in Saratoga, she helped West Side win silver at the state championships in senior fours. It’s the second state silver medal of her career and provides some momentum for Rozumalski and her crew mates (Clare Cotter of Buffalo Seminary, Rayna Weigel of Williamsville North, Abby Buckley of Clarence, coxswain: Katie Holmwood of Williasmville East) as West Side heads into its final two meets of the season. West Side participates in the Syracuse Invitational this weekend and is home for the All-High Regatta on May 25.
“It’s been really great this season,” she said.
“She works hard on her technique,” West Side coach Miles Schwartz said. “She’s very good at making adjustments.”
What made rowing appealing to Rozumalski?
“Rowing was so different than anything I’d ever tried before,” said the 5-foot-10 Rozumalski, who is also part of two record-setting relay swim teams at N-W. “It was the best combination of a team sport and an individual sport, and it gave me the opportunity to be part of something and work toward a common goal together, but also you’re only as good as the weakest link in your boat. So individually it was really challenging too, which I really liked.”
Her swimming skills hastened the process for learning proper rowing techniques. Both depend on endurance, good form and mental toughness.
“She’s an athletic kid already, so she’s got the basics down,” Schwartz said. “She did a lot of sports before. She knew the level of compete she needed to get her to the place she’s at now.”
Louisville started making contact with Rozumalski last season and offered the best athletic and academic scholarship combination. It adds up to a full ride, which is difficult to refuse.
Rozumalski believes the full-ride opportunity would not have been possible if not for giving in to her curiosity and picking up an oar.
“I think the biggest difference is the team aspect,” she said. “Swimming, even though you are part of a team, the sport itself is so much more individual whereas rowing, there’s always that end goal of being part of a boat or team. I think that’s why I ended up rowing as opposed to swimming in college because that makes the sport so much more appealing and it makes the end goal so much sweeter.”
Rozumalski isn’t the only West Side rower who will have the opportunity to compete in college. Claire Conrad of Buffalo Seminary is heading to Alabama, according to Schwartz. Frontier’s Julia Vicaretti will row at Mercyhurst, while senior men’s four member Andrew Solowski of Frontier is heading to Canisius. Cotter will row for Geneseo.
Canisius wins three
Canisius boats captured three state championships last weekend in Saratoga, while three other crews also earned spots in the Scholastic Nationals May 23 in Camden, N.J.
Leading the Crusaders’ charge is Patrick Boyd and senior classmate Daniel Jordan, who won the senior pair in 6:18.3. The duo is planning to go west after the season. Jordan will row at University of California (Berkeley), while Boyd is heading to the University of Washington. Ben Zabel, the coxswain for the state champion lightweight eight, will attempt to walk-on at Boston University.
Canisius has won two of the three regattas it has participated in this spring – the John Bennett at West Side Rowing Club and Governor’s Cup in Columbus, Ohio.
Canisius’ junior eight also won a state title. Those boats will be joined by the senior four, which captured silver at states. Antonio Guzman, Will Kirsch and coxswain Fred Drezewicki are members of that crew along with Boyd and Jordan. Another senior pair boat of the Crusaders and the lightweight four took bronze at states. Both qualified for nationals.
Around the channel
• St. Joe’s junior four-plus also enjoyed the states experience, winning gold to earn a spot in nationals. While the Marauders usually qualify a boat for nationals, this one is unique in that a freshman and sophomore are members of the crew. Members of the boat include freshman Charlie Ivancic (cox), junior Eric Szafranski, sophomore Charles Pratt, junior August Cudeck, and junior Charlie Kwitchoff. Ivancic comes from a long line of coxswains as his father and three older brothers all piloted boats for St. Joe’s.
• Nardin will be well represented at nationals as the Gators’ senior four-plus, lightweight four-plus and junior eight all qualified. The senior four includes a pair of college commits in Lauren Murray (Duquesne) and Allison Schmitt (Duquesne). The other three (Anna Sholk, Yama Los and Emily Salerno) have picked their schools but aren’t sure if they’ll row.
The lightweight-four crew includes future Canisius rower Gianna Ortolani (coxswain), Marist commit Catherine Karas, and Caroline Wrafter (Ohio State club team), Didi Hurley (Miami-Ohio) and Helen Joyce. Members of the junior eight include Kiera Bohen (coxswain), Cameryn Orlowski, Jessie Schmitt, Grace Dietrich, Tara Finlayson, Anne Marren, Alex Holt, Elizabeth Korn and Addie Mahoney.
• Members of the Mount St. Mary crew that won the women’s junior eight at states last weekend include Alissa Miller-Gonzalez, Theresa Rusch, Maureen Frauenhein, Molly Frauenhein, Olivia Cianchetti, Sophie Carroll, Hannah Lawrence, Gabby Teoli and Emily Ngo (coxswain).
• Nichols will be represented at nationals by its boys senior four-plus boat consisting of Matthew O’Connor, Brady Stevens, Will Kinsman Sean Mann and coxswain: Christie Hartman.