Canisius High School is developing a rivalry on the water with St. Joseph's Prep of Philadelphia.
The Crusaders will try to defend their Lightweight 8 title this weekend at the USRowing Youth National Championships on Harsha Lake in Cincinnati, and St. Joseph's will be standing in their way.
Canisius returns more than half of the members who won last year's race by less than two-tenths of a seconds over Prep. The Philadelphia school got revenge at the United States Scholastic Championship in late May in Camden, N.J., winning the lightweight race while Canisius finished third.
Canisius tuned up for the Youth Nationals by finishing second in the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association National Championships last weekend at St. Catharines, Ont.
That boat's coxswain, Michael Szymoniak, was invited to the junior national team selection camp this summer.
Youth Nationals are considered more competitive than the U.S. Scholastic nationals because club teams can take part.
This means two fast boats from the West Side Rowing Club -- the girls varsity 4 and the girls lightweight 4 -- can race. Last year, the women's varsity 8 from West Side finished fourth in the consolation final in Cincinnati.
The Canisius boat isn't the only Western New York crew with championship aspirations.
The Nardin lightweight 8 has had a tremendous season, finishing second to Mount St. Joseph's Academy of Philadelphia at the Scholastic nationals and winning last weekend at St. Catharines by 2.52 seconds.
Buffalo Seminary won the Junior 4 at the Scholastic nationals, but different age restrictions prevent that boat from racing in Cincinnati. However, Seminary did qualify a Senior 8 for the Youth nationals. Two members of its champion Junior 4, Kyle Friedman and Sarah Grace, are in the Senior 8.
Nearly the entire team returns next year for Buffalo Seminary, giving the school a good shot at a title.
The sixth and last local boat at the Youth nationals is the lightweight 4 from Canisius, which finished third at St. Catharines. The other medal won there by a local school was a silver captured by St. Joe's in the 72KG coxed 4.
Among the 53 athletes invited to the junior women's selection camp was Sophie DeTine of Buffalo Seminary.