Rowers win Ontario silver

Heavyweight men win first gold in 13 years

Queen’s rowers had a strong weekend at the Ontario University Athletics championships in St. Catharines last Saturday and Sunday, bringing home six gold medals and finishing second overall in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

Despite the impressive hardware, men’s head coach Rob Watering said Queen’s could have done better.

“It wasn’t as successful as it could have been,” he said. “But there were some good surprises.”

The men’s heavyweight eight won their event for the first time in 13 years, beating the McGill Redmen by 0.37 seconds.

“We had a great race and capitalized on some of the other crews’ mistakes,” heavyweight Andrew Rastapkevicius said.

“I think they’ve been getting progressively closer all year,” Watering said. “They’ve been increasing speed steadily throughout the season.”

The lightweight men, on the other hand, had their ups and downs.

Simon Gowdy capped off an undefeated season in the lightweight single, but the heavily favoured lightweight eight finished in an unexpected third place behind Western and Brock.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Gowdy said with regards to the lightweight eights performance said. “I can’t explain it.

“Maybe we got a little cocky. Maybe we just didn’t have a great race.”

Watering said the result doesn’t reflect the calibre of the athletes in the program.

Despite the loss in the eight, Gowdy was pleased with his performance in the single.

“It was pretty sweet,” Gowdy said of his season. “[The eventual silver medallist] beat up on me in the heat, so I was pretty worried going into the final.

“I might have been the favourite, but I definitely saw myself as the underdog going into the final.”

The men’s heavyweight eight, lightweight double and lightweight single all won their events.

Queen’s women were equally successful in their events but, like the men, finished second overall behind Western.

Women’s head coach Scott Feddery said he had high expectations of the lightweight crews going into the weekend.

“The lightweight program at Queen’s has been pretty dominant at the OUAs for a little while, and it was up to them to keep it up,” he said.

Expectations were especially high for the women’s lightweight eight, who had won five of the past six provincial championships.

“We had some mixed results over the course of the season,” Feddery said. “We weren’t sure whether it was a true indication of our competition speed.”

On the day, the lightweight eight put together their best performance of the season to take the race by nine seconds over Western.

“The crew raced really well,” Feddery said. “I challenged them to perform the best they could and they stepped up.”

The heavyweight women, however, did not medal in any of their events. Feddery said he was hoping for a few outstanding performances but was content with the results.

“They were much stronger this year than last year, but it’s still a rebuilding program,” he said. “That process will continue next year.”

Feddery was optimistic about the future.

“The lightweights really continued their dominance in the division,” he said. “The good news is that, of the eight that won this year, none of them graduate. I guess that’s bad news for the rest of the division.”

Other gold medal winners include the women’s lightweight four and lightweight double.

In addition to the success of both crews on the water, men’s head coach Rob Watering was named OUA men’s rowing coach of the year.

“I was quite surprised by that,” he said. “I don’t know if I deserved that really, I think they were quite generous to give that to me.

“But it was really an honour to win it.”

Rastapkevicius credits Watering with leading the heavyweight eight through a rocky start to the season.

Queen’s crews will compete in the Canadian University Rowing Championships this weekend at Brock University.

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