Women’s rowing takes silver at nationals

Women’s team climb podium in Montreal, men’s team can’t repeat last year’s successes

The Queen’s men’s pair, composed of Scott Brandon (left) and captain Andrew Joyce, finished fifth in Sunday’s race in Montreal.
The Queen’s men’s pair, composed of Scott Brandon (left) and captain Andrew Joyce, finished fifth in Sunday’s race in Montreal.
Supplied phoot by John Joyce

Queen’s posted varying results at the Canadian University Championships in Montreal on Sunday. Two proved to be the lucky number for the women’s team; they placed second overall for the second time in two years. The men finished three places shy of last year’s bronze medal in sixth place.

Head coach John Armitage said last year’s strong finishes at nationals were stressful for his rowers leading up to the competition.

“In an overall sense there is the pressure of expectation,” he said. “But when you’re out there in your event, you’re not thinking about overall team result. Team result is an outcome of execution in eight different events.”

The men’s team earned a spot on the podium in one event, with Greg McNally placing third in the men’s single. McNally’s effort was one of six top-10 finishes by the Gaels, including a fourth-place finish by the lightweight men’s four team. The University of Victoria Vikes took first-place overall.

This season, the men’s team was without several of last year’s top performers, including Nick Pratt and Rares Crisan, both of whom earned medals at last year’s national championships.

The championships were originally scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, but strong winds caused Saturday to be cancelled and its events to be moved to Sunday. The time-trial events, scheduled to take place the day prior to the races, took place on Sunday in addition to the previously schedued races.

Armitage said the scheduling change forced him to make last-minute substitutions.

“It prohibited us from racing some of our rowers in three races,” he said. “With time trials it would have added up to six races in one day. Even four in a day is asking a lot of an athlete.”

Bronze medalist Greg McNally said Saturday’s cancellation was especially shocking because the events were being held at Montreal’s Olympic Basin.

“We were racing on one of the most sheltered courses in Canada,” he said. “It had to be horrendous weather to cancel a day. This has to be the first regatta I’ve been to where an entire day was cancelled.”

McNally said the weather wasn’t the only cause of the men’s team’s personnel issues.

“We combined heavyweight athletes and lightweight athletes to compete in the men’s heavyweight eight event,” he said. “We’re disadvantaged because we had a smaller team. Basically we felt we had a more competitive boat with the four lightweights, based on their caliber. We had lightweight athletes racing against absolute monsters.”

Sarah Marshall acquired Queen’s lone gold in the lightweight women’s single. Her medal was one of four podium finishes for the women’s team, who finished 10 points behind the first-place overall Western Mustangs.

This season was Marshall’s first with Queen’s, coming to the team as a graduate student after completing her undergraduate degree at Western. She said it was interesting to be behind what used to be enemy lines.

“Queen’s and Western are sort of lifelong—I’m not going to say enemies—but competitors,” she said. “It was neat to be on the other side of it.” The women endured several close losses that cost them gold, including a photo-finish loss to the Brock University Badgers in the lightweight women’s four.

Armitage said despite the tight competition, Western was a superior team

“All we had to do was get lucky once and we would have been the champions.”

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