By Larry Moko
One hundred and fifty-six competitors from Hamilton and Niagara converged on St. Mary Catholic Secondary School for the annual Leander Indoor City Championship Regatta Saturday.
“It was the biggest one yet for the indoor competition,” regatta co-ordinator Andy Hanta said. “We started off with around 90 four years ago.”
The Hamilton event is usually one of the first high school regattas of the indoor season. It serves as a precursor to the Canadian Indoor Championships which this year is scheduled for Feb. 9 in Mississauga.
Thirty ergometers were set up in the St. Mary gym – 14 for actual competition with 16 of those machines available for practice.
“They race a two-kilometer course and try to get their best time,” Hanta said. “They are competing against other athletes as well as the clock.”
Overall, St. Mary’s team of 28 rowers placed fourth in the standings with 48 points. Ahead of the Crusaders were Welland Centennial (35), Westdale (32) and Eden (25).
St. Mary placed third in the men’s category (won by Eden) and fifth in women’s (won by Welland Centennial).
The Bishop Tonnos Titans also represented the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic board, coming sixth in the women’s division (47).
“It went pretty well,” St. Mary rowing coach Greg Hanta said. “From a St. Mary perspective, we had a lot of kids come out and pull personal best times.”
Emma Lazenby of St. Mary – a record-holder at the same venue two years ago — won her race and turned in an impressive time. Said coach Hanta: “Emma was just 1.5 seconds off (a PB) which isn’t much. I was happy with everybody’s performance today.”
Lazenby recently signed to a University of Oklahoma rowing scholarship. She’ll be leaving for the Norman campus in August.
“I’m really excited for that,” said Lazenby, a former Canadian national junior cycling team member. “Without St. Mary rowing, I wouldn’t have started rowing in the first place.
“This school has given me a lot of opportunities. Now I get to go to the States, so that’s pretty cool.”
A native of England, Lazenby made the transition to rowing after suffering a separated shoulder from a cycling crash in 2018. For a time, she had combined both sports.
“I originally wanted to train and go the junior track cycling worlds,” she said. “When the crash happened I decided to make the switch. I could do rowing in university whereas cycling isn’t as on the map.”
Lazenby plans on studying Health and Exercise Science as a Sooner.
“I think I talked to 25 U.S. schools in the summer,” she said. “I went on five official visits.
Oklahoma was ultimately the place I felt at home. I love everything about it.”
In reference to Lazenby, the St. Mary coach said: “Emma is a humble athlete who is very dedicated and driven. She’s a silent leader on the team. She puts her all into every practice and competition.”
Lazenby placed second at the Canadian Indoor Championships when she was in Grade 10 then ended up in the top 15 last year.
“I’m hoping for a top five and a PB this year,” she said.
Lazenby enjoys the indoor erg training sessions and says they’re beneficial.
“It pretty much gives fitness so when I get on the water in April I’m already in shape,” she said. “There’s no elements. It’s truly just you and the machine and how hard you can push. What I like about it is you can go balls to the wall and pretty much collapse at the end.”
Lazenby also represented St. Mary in cross-country for two years and qualified for OFSAA in swimming.
Source: Marnie Jadon