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Locals near head of class

The Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston draws 7,500 athletes from all over the world to row in 26 events. Last weekend, crews from Western New York proved that when they face that kind of competition, they aren't outclassed.

Canisius High School sent two boats, and both did well enough to qualify for this prestigious event next year. That required finishing within 5 percent of the winning high school time, something no other high school did in both events.

The boys four of Jeff Todd, Jim Thompson, Patrick Fernbach, Sean Lane and Ian Suchan (cox) finished in 18:01, seventh of 51 overall and fifth among high school boats, thereby medaling. In the youth boys competition, rowers must be under age 19 and so can be college freshmen. St. Catharines (Ont.) Rowing Club won it in 17:23, and boats from Boston University and Princeton finished third and fourth.

In the youth eights, Michael Syzmoniak (cox), Patrick Kenney, Adam Nugent, Zak Stirling, Jonathan Rost, Alan Amico, John Myers, Rob Piscatelli and Brian Blum finished 35th of 79 entries in 16:30.28. Six of the top seven finishers represented colleges, with Cal-Berkeley winning in 15:01.

West Side Rowing Club finished eighth of 62 in the youth eights for women in 18:10.12, less than 30 seconds behind the winning crew from Community Rowing Inc. of Boston. In that shell were Allison Todd (cox), Alex Angelo, Mary Kate Murphy, Kait Cunningham, Sage Green, Frances McGuire, Sasha Bailey, Lisa Nasca and Sarah Giancola.

The West Side youth four -- Molly Reister (cox), Maria Ciminelli, Claire Gay, Megan Mahoney and Liz Lalonde -- finished 43rd of 50 after receiving a 90-second penalty for an in-race incident.

In 3-mile head races, groups of boats get running starts about 15 seconds apart.

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