Rowing claims OUA titles

Men and women are victorious at provincial championships in St. Catharines

The men’s and women’s rowing teams pose with their OUA championship banners on the dock in St. Catharines Saturday.
The men’s and women’s rowing teams pose with their OUA championship banners on the dock in St. Catharines Saturday.

The men’s and women’s rowing teams both captured titles this weekend at the OUA championships in St. Catharines. It was the women’s fifth championship in the last six years, but the men’s first championship since 2004, when they captured the title a few weeks after the fact thanks to the disqualification of the Brock Badgers for an ineligible athlete.

Men’s captain Rares Crisan said the win was tremendous for the men, who hadn’t won an OUA championship outright since 1992.

“It was huge because we hadn’t won the banner in so many years,” he said. “We kept coming close every time, like last year when we were like two points out. Given the calibre of our team and just how determined we were to get it, it was just monumental for the men.”

Crisan said the championships will provide a boost to the team’s recruiting and fundraising efforts.

“For our rowing program as a whole, it’s huge that we’re the top men and women in Ontario,” he said.

The women’s team won six of the eight weekend events and finished 10 points ahead of the Western Mustangs. Jenny Hogsden claimed the lightweight single title and added the heavyweight double title with Katya Herman, who also won the heavyweight single. Caylen Heckel and Alexandra Meiklejohn claimed the lightweight double and were also members of the victorious women’s lightweight eight. Catherine Moores, Rebecca McWatters, Carlene Thivierge-Lortie, Kristine Matusiak and coxswain Ashley Niblett added the lightweight four title to their success in the lightweight eight. The women also finished second in the heavyweight four and fifth in the heavyweight eight.

On the men’s side, Rob Ballard started things off for Queen’s with a victory in the men’s single. Crisan said Ballard’s unexpected win gave the team a momentum boost.

“Rob Ballard winning the single was kind of one of those unexpected successes because a lot of schools didn’t anticipate we’d have a sculler,” he said. “Rob winning the single to start it off really set the precedent. He won the single and that was unexpected; Western didn’t see that coming, and that gave us a lot of points.”

Ballard was also a member of the victorious men’s lightweight eight, along with John Barr and Morgan Jarvis, who teamed up to win the lightweight single. Queen’s also finished second in the heavyweight four, the lightweight four and the heavyweight eight and third in the heavyweight single and heavyweight double. They finished eight points ahead of the second-place Western Mustangs, who claimed the provincial and national men’s titles last season.

Next up for both the men and women’s teams is a trip to the national championships in Fort Langley, B.C. this weekend. Crisan said the different rules at nationals, including the elimination of the lightweight classes, the elimination of the restriction that only allows individual rowers to compete in two events and the limitation of teams to 12 rowers mean these championships will be quite a different challenge for the teams. They have to change up their crews to combine lightweight and heavyweight rowers.

“The trick is the heavyweight eight, because there are going to be a few lightweights going into the heavyweight eight and we have about three days to kind of cohesively make that boat work.”

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