Rowing claims seven golds

Team says there’s still more improvement to come

The Queen’s rowing team brought home a boatload of medals on Saturday from the Brock Invitational Regatta, including seven first-place finishes and nine other podium appearances. But they believe there’s still a lot of work to do.

Rebecca McWatters, who claimed gold medals as part of the women’s lightweight four and the women’s lightweight eight crews, said the Gaels are always striving to improve even when they win.

“We’re never satisfied,” she said. “It’s not that we aren’t grateful; we just like to push the boundaries and ask more from ourselves.”

The Brock regatta was the first race of the season that featured head-to-head lane-racing instead of timed races in heats, which McWatters said was beneficial.

“It’s the first time the universities get to see how they stack up against each other,” she said. “It gave us more confidence.”

Head coach John Armitage said the team had highs and lows on the day.

“I’ve got mixed feelings on the weekend,” he said. “We’ve got the good, and the need-to-get-better.”

Jenny Hogsden won gold in the women’s lightweight single as well as in the double alongside Katya Herman. The women’s squad also placed first in the lightweight four and lightweight eight. Cox Ashley Niblett, Kristine Matusiak, Caylen Heckel, Charly Thivierge-Lortie and McWatters won gold in the four and were joined by Alex Meiklejohn, Crystal Hyatt, Emily Richardson and Catherine Moores to win the eight.

Armitage said he’s come to expect success from the lightweight women.

“They’re predictably strong,” he said.

The women’s heavyweight team had a first-place finish in the single from Herman, but little other success. Armitage says they’re still rebuilding. “The goal this year is to move up in the rankings,” he said. “[They] were focused on rowing well and not necessarily on racing.”

Armitage said the team has been training hard, so the finishes were impressive given their fatigue. He plans to gradually shorten training sessions so his team can peak at the OUA championships in two weeks.

“We do tapering,” he said. “The workouts maintain the same intensity but become shorter as we get closer to the big day.”

On the men’s side there were seven boats that won medals despite the fatigue.

Morgan Jarvis and John Barr won the lightweight double, and Rob Ballard triumphed in the lightweight single. The lightweight four earned a silver medal.

Jarvis said he was feeling the intensity of the training in the week leading into Saturday’s race.

“I was just bagged,” he said. “I felt like I was going to pass out in class. … Most of us couldn’t even walk.”

Both the men’s heavyweight and lightweight eights placed third below Brock and Western, a loss Jarvis said was frustrating because he knows his team is stronger as a unit.

“It sucks to lose to Western,” he said. “They’ve got four guys that are taking the other four for a ride, when we’ve have eight guys pulling their own weight.”

Jarvis said it’s all a matter of the team gelling together so that they can benefit from individual abilities that brought the team strong finishes in small-boat competition.

“Our main goal is to make the eight-boat go because that’s worth the most points,” he said. “If we can all be driving together, then the boat’s going to go a lot faster a lot easier.”

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