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St. Joe’s breaks through at West Side regatta

St. Joe’s was tired of winning silver medals.

The Marauders crew team’s junior four boat had finished second in four races this season. A Canadian school that had to petition just to compete in the race beat it out in the Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s National Championship on Saturday. The team won gold at the state championships three weeks ago but only because a club squad finished first.

The St. Joe’s coaches weren’t even planning on racing the junior four in the Fontana All-High City Championships Regatta on the waterfront Monday.

“The guys said, ‘We need a gold medal,’” said St. Joe’s assistant coach Matt Cosmann. “So we said, ‘OK, we’ll let you row today and pick up what’s due.’ And that’s what they did.”

St. Joe’s rowed through the wind and rain and finished an impressive Memorial Day weekend with a time of 6:23.4 and a win at the Black Rock Channel Monday. Six Western New York schools and a club team competed in the annual regatta hosted by the West Side Rowing Club that features 1,500-meter races. Canisius won the most events with four.

The conditions were favorable for the majority of the morning, but the wind and rain picked up and nearly delayed the races as the St. Joe’s four prepared to race at noon.

“A huge crosswind came and whacked our boat and waves crashed over the side, then it starting pouring. Water was coming from above us and below us,” said junior August Cudeck. “But it was a lot of fun.”

Monday’s win came after the Marauders finished second to Grimsby, Ont., in the SRAA nationals in Camden, N.J. on Saturday – the first time St. Joe’s has won the silver medal in nationals since 2011.

“We felt really proud for the boys that they were able to beat every U.S. crew,” said St. Joe’s head coach Richard Schaab.

Despite having the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association Nationals in two weeks, this was the final time the St. Joe’s members of the crew consisting of Cudeck, sophomore Charlie Pratt, freshman coxswain Charlie Ivancic and juniors Eric Szafranski and Charlie Kwitchoff will compete together this season. Cudeck and Kwitchoff take the SATs that weekend.

St. Joe’s wasn’t the only school with an impressive day. City Honors continued its success in its new Vespoli boat with a winning time of 6:11.3 in the girls junior fours race.

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation gave City Honors a $25,000 grant in mid-April that paid for 80 percent of the boat. The school has won gold in two regattas and participated in the state finals with the shell. The Wilson Foundation gave the school its support after City Honors Crew President Leiza Zionts wrote a grant request to the Youth Foundation, which aims to support young athletes.

“We don’t have a lot of the same funding as the private schools. We’re always looking for donations,” said City Honors head coach Joshua Sanders. “It really helps our kids get out there and gives them a chance as City Honors kids to compete against a lot of other schools.”

Freddy Drzewiecki, a Canisius junior, won two medals as a member of the Crusaders’ boys senior four and eight winning “A” teams – which gave him a chance to beat out his Canisius teammates on the “B” teams.

“It’s feels really good to be walking away with two golds,” Drzeweicki said. “In both of our events we were against other Canisius boats. It was fun to beat them. They were a little angry afterward but it’s all right.”

Regatta results on Page B6.