Tampa crew team heading to nationals

- The Tampa Tridents are looking to make a splash in their final high school race. They're the Tampa Bay area's lone qualifier in the Youth National Rowing Championships.

"It's my last race as a senior,” said Seffner Christian's Ashley Ball. "To think we have the potential to be national champions is something we are definitely striving for."

"This last high school race for me is bittersweet before I get to the collegiate level,” said Steinbrenner High's Kaylee Wojciechowski.  "We definitely want to go out with a bang."

This five-member club is a Tampa Bay area all-star crew -- three seniors and two juniors from five different high schools. All have earned college scholarships to row at major D-I universities.

They're talented, but what makes them so strong is their connection on the water.

"Yes, in and out of the boat,” said Strawberry Crest's Holly Drapp. "We probably spend too much time together, but it all comes together and it makes it a great chemistry."

There is no doubt that this competition is going to be ultra-competitive. Twenty of the best teams in the nation in each classification will start with trails. They will reduce to 12 for the semi-finals and the six best teams will go head to head in finals. It's sure to be intense.

"You get to the 1000-meter mark, you're halfway done and you're exhausted,” said Lexi Klein, a rising senior at Shorecrest Prep. "Everything is burning. You just have to make sure you just keep going."

The four rowers have won the state and regional levels. National competition is nothing new for this crew. This team has rowed at this elite level before, but this time they have an edge. The course is in their own backyard -- Sarasota.

"I've done it for countless times,” said Academy of the Holy Names’ Julia Hojnaski. "I've been there for high school races, master's races, so many."

The Tridents have put in their work, now they're just anxiously awaiting race day.

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