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The pair won the under-16 double sculls at the national secondary schools regatta at Lake Ruataniwha last year.
The Fred Strachan-coached crew of Mears and Latta are two 16-year-olds from South Otago farms who board at the OBHS hostel at School House. Strachan believes both have the talent to go on to be national representatives.
They rowed within themselves when coming third in their heat of the under-18 coxless pair in 7min 58.58sec.
Mears also showed his mettle by winning his heat of the boys under-18 single sculls in 7min 43.78sec. He came second in the under-17 single sculls heat in 7min 36.87sec.
The young Mount Aspiring College crew of Georgina Galloway and Saasha Bruce finished third in the under-18 double sculls heat in 7min 40.27sec.
Galloway (16) and Bruce (15) won the event at the South Island secondary schools rowing championships in a time of 7min 58.35sec and were always going to be contenders at the higher level.
The Dave Varney-coached crew came fourth in the heat of the under-17 event in 8min 8.32sec.
The two days of finals at Lake Karapiro on Friday and Saturday will be televised live on Sky Sports.