A pair of Columbia County rowers have qualified to compete on a national stage.
For Ellen Bledsoe, the trip will be her fourth. For Brad Scammon, the experience will be a new one.
Both are Lakeside students who participate with the Augusta Rowing Club.
Bledsoe, a senior, finished second in the women's open weight single category at the Southeast Youth Rowing Championships in Tennessee. She qualified to compete at Youth Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second week of June.
Scammon and boatmate Nolan Klinke, a student at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, finished third in the lightweight double at the Southeast Youth Rowing Championships in Tennessee. Their finish also earned them a trip to Ohio.
"It's a really great accomplishment to qualify for nationals," said Michael Meyer, the head coach of the Augusta Rowing Club. "It's some of the fastest rowing competition from across the country."
Meyer said he wasn't sure whether Bledsoe would make the trip, since she had qualified the previous three years.
He said she was the club's most accomplished rower.
Bledsoe was a co-winner of the Female Club Athlete of the Year Award, presented by the Georgia Women's Intersports Network. She earned a scholarship to compete on the crew team at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
In addition to rowing, Bledsoe has played softball, soccer and lacrosse. She's the president of Lakeside's chorus program and has danced for 14 years.
Bledsoe combines attributes from each while competing in the boat.
"She has power, technique and endurance, which is a rare combination to have all three," he said.
Scammon decided he needed a sport when he started as a freshman at Lakeside High School, and he wanted to look outside what the school offered.
He read in a newspaper that Augusta Rowing Club was looking for new members.
"I kind of got addicted to it," said Scammon, a junior. "It's hard to walk away from."
Scammon has rowed in regional competitions in previous years. This will be his first trip to nationals.
"I'm looking forward to it," Scammon said. "It's going to be a great time."
Meyer said the national competition will feature 125 to 150 clubs from around the country. He said his goal for Scammon and Klinke is a top-12 finish and a time of less than seven minutes. The tandem finished in 7:03 to win third at regionals.
Bledsoe took silver by 0.3 seconds after overtaking two competitors down the stretch.
Those attending nationals face an increase in practice time in the next few weeks. The club's normal practice schedule is four days a week, two hours or more per session. With school out, the club will practice five or six days a week.
Scammon and others who will participate in nationals could practice eight times a week leading up to the competition.
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