Rower keeps ascending

By Joey Knight, Times staff writer
Published May 29, 2007

TAMPA - Local oar-wielding prodigy Shannon Hoffman continued her improbable ascension through the burgeoning ranks of prep rowing with the best area performance at her sport's national championships last weekend.

A 17-year-old who begins her senior year at Academy of the Holy Names in August, Hoffman placed fourth in the Women's Senior Single division at the 2007 Scholastic Rowing Association of America Championship Regatta in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Hoffman, who took up the sport only 16 months ago, completed the 1, 500-meter course in 6:32.34, trimming more than a half-minute off her previous effort (7:05.82) at last month's state rowing championships in Tampa.

In that race, Hoffman placed second overall (7:05.82) but first among scholastic rowers. The key, she said, has been a seven-day-a-week training schedule implemented in August.

"It's crazy, " said Hoffman, now receiving overtures from major college rowing programs. "But all that's paid off, and I can tell by the result."

Elsewhere, Hillsborough's Women's Junior Four team - senior Megan Kelly, sophomores Katie Burke, Madeline Kreher and Maddy Cuono, and senior coxswain Emily Collins - finished fifth in its division (6:01.31) after winning a semifinal heat.

GRIFFITH SHINES IN SEBRING: Middleton right-hander Nevin Griffith, projected as a high-round pick in next month's Major League Baseball draft, tossed two scoreless innings to earn a win in last weekend's Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Classic in Sebring.

The annual event at Firemen's Field featured more than 80 of the state's top seniors, not to mention dozens of pro scouts. Games were 10 innings to give all participants ample playing time.

Griffith started for the West in Friday night's 9-2 rout of the East, allowing two hits and striking out two. Jesuit right-hander Kevin Quackenbush worked the 10th, fanning three of the five batters he faced.

Hillsborough outfielder Michael Burgess, hitless for the West in Friday's game, went 2-for-3 with a home run in a 12-7 loss to the North on Saturday.