Eleven rowers from the Augusta Junior Rowing Club will be competing in the U.S. Rowing Youth Invitational in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday-Sunday.
Augusta rowers Meagan Matta, 17 (left), and Vanessa Kemp, 17, practice on the Savannah River on May 25.
Photo by Kevin Martin
The team catapulted to the national competition after placing second in the Southeast Region Junior Championship in Oakridge, Tenn., May 8.
An Atlanta-based team won first in that competition.
"Out of all the boats we put in the water, only two did not medal," said Wanda Kemp, team spokeswoman and mother of two of the competitors. "But they put more boats in the water, so they beat us by shear numbers. Overall we ended up with more gold than silver."
Local rowers slated to compete in the national competition include:
Boys: A.J. Doak, a rising Lakeside High School senior; Tom Beckenhauer, a Lakeside High graduate; Reese Hamilton, a rising Westside High School senior; Ryan Reynolds, a rising John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School junior; Brett Shealey, a rising North Augusta High School senior.
Girls: Alaina Kemp, a rising Lakeside High senior; Vanessa Kemp, a rising Lakeside High senior; Meagan Matta, an Aquinas High School graduate; Kristine Farrar, a North Augusta graduate; Alexis Valbag, a rising junior at Davidson; and Casey Fairbanks, a graduate of Hilton Head High School who trains with the team.
The 11 going to the national competition will leave Thursday to drive to the competition. They will bring a quad and a single boat for both the boys' and girls' teams. Coaches are Jason Herold and Anna Peppin.
There are 38 members of the Augusta Junior Rowing Club, which includes teens from 14 to 18. More than half of its membership is from Lakeside High. They typically train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Last year, the club also sent 11 members to the national competition where one boat finished sixth and another eleventh.
"For an area in the southeast that's not Florida, we're doing very well," Kemp said.
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