McCandless man cruises to Central Catholic Biathlon title |
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Competing at the Central Catholic Biathlon are Central Catholic rowers and former rowers, from left, Left to right: Phil Bohn, Carl Buck, Nick Fratto, John Peilert and Anicet Mundundu.

Zachary Petronic of McCandless had a standout performance in taking first place in the men and high school varsity boys event at the Central Catholic Biathlon at the Three Rivers Rowing Association on Washington’s Landing Dec. 12.

Petronic, 24, completed 10,000 meters on an ergometer in 34 minutes, 37 seconds and a 6-mile run in 40:55.

His total time of 1 hour, 15.31 seconds was more than three minutes ahead of second-place finisher Creighton Tarrant of Central Catholic (1:18:35) and close to a meet record set a few years ago.

There were 94 competitors in the men and high school boys varsity event.

Petronic — a former USRowing National Team member who competed twice at the World University Games — was not surprised he won.

“I knew going in I could do well,” he said.

Central Catholic coach Jay Hammond said members of his team were impressed by Petronic’s showing, especially in the rowing part of the competition.

Central Catholic senior Gennaro Valant, who was third overall in 1:20:32, said he was proud to have placed in the top three with such an elite competitor.

“It was an honor to find out (about) his impressive experience and to have the chance to race against him,” said Valant, 17, of Fox Chapel. “This event does not often see such strong competition, and it made all of us push ourselves to our limits.”

Petronic said he enjoys the event, which is patterned after the Newell Triathlon at Harvard University, where Hammond, the biathlon founder, was a heavyweight rower.

“It’s fun,” said Petronic, a member of the Steel City Rowing Club in Verona. “I love that coaches compete alongside their rowers, (which) just adds a different atmosphere.

“The run portion adds a new element to the competition for rowers, some of whom may not be good at running.”

Petronic was one of four individual champions.

Central Catholic freshman Tom Maier (high school novice boys), North Hills junior Heather Walter (women and high school varsity girls) and Fox Chapel freshman Leah Fetting (high school novice girls) also earned gold medals.

Walter, 16, of Ross said she appreciated that teammates and others cheered as she ran.

“I like this event because it is different than (others in which we compete),” said Walter, who belongs to the Three Rivers Junior Rowing team.

Fetting, 15, of Fox Chapel enjoyed competing for the first time.

“It was a very nice race and (a) good way to bond with my team as we get ready for winter training,” she said.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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