Rowers can’t build on OUA finals results

The women and men finish fourth and seventh respectively at the Canadian University Championships in Victoria.

The women’s rowing team enjoyed success racing in Ontario.
The women’s rowing team enjoyed success racing in Ontario.
Journal File Photo

The Queen’s rowing program closed out their 2010 season at the Canadian University Rowing Championships this weekend in Victoria. The women’s team placed fourth despite taking home the OUA banner just a week earlier in St Catharine’s. The men also fell short of their expectations, finishing seventh.

Although they didn’t come out as champions, the women were content with their performance as they brought home three medals from the competition. The OUA champion lightweight four made up of Catherine Moores, Caylen Heckel, Emily Richardson and Kyle McCasey and coxed by Ashley Niblett topped the squad with a second-place finish. The women also had a bronze in the lightweight double and lightweight single. The women finished sixth in the open weight pair and fourth in the open weight eight.

Moores, who rowed in all three medaling boats, said the team was aiming higher coming into the event.

“We were definitely hoping to bring home the CU banner,” she said. “I thought we had a good shot at it but that would have been dependent on winning the single, the double and the four for lightweight events. I think we did well but not quite well enough to get enough points for the banner.”

For the men, this regatta was expected to be largely redemptive after a fourth-place finish at OUAs but results fell short. The team’s only medal came from fifth-year Robert Ballard, who finished in third in the lightweight single. The lightweight four came in fifth and the open eight also finished in fifth.

In an email to the Journal men’s captain, Colin Sutherland, expressed some of the team’s frustrations.

“Expectations going in were to at least make the A final in most of the events, and this wasn’t accomplished,” he said.

The men were unable to qualify for the final in three out of six events. These events were the open single, the lightweight double and the open pair.

“On the lightweight side, the [lightweight four] expected to be able to improve on the result from OUAs but they were only able to match the fifth place result,” Sutherland said. “The men’s team was a little disappointed with the results. We were definitely expecting to do better in a couple events and that didn’t happen.”

One of the biggest challenges for both the men and the women was racing against the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia. There is an unfamiliar element going into the championships as Ontario teams haven’t raced against west coast opponents. The University of Victoria ended up winning both the men’s and women’s events while UBC placed third in each. Sutherland said a lack of experience in facing the west coast teams shouldn’t play into the results.

“You approach races in the same way as any other in order to win you are going to have to race one of the hardest races of the season,” he said. “UVic and UBC are perennially fast schools, so we know they will be tough to beat.”

Sutherland said the losses for both teams could be a byproduct of Queens’ prioritization of the OUAs.

“OUAs are definitely a bigger focus for us than the CURC,” he said. “The main reason is because OUAs is what the University looks at when determining the success of our season.” In addition, women’s heavyweight coach Zola Mehlomakulu said the finish of the Queen’s season isn’t reflective of their performance throughout.

The Queen’s coaches make their training program in such a way that the athletes peak for OUAs. Racing CURCs a week later can often be exhausting and difficult especially after a long flight. The west coast teams have the advantage of not racing their own version of the OUAs and can focus on CURCs exclusively.

“I think in an ideal world you’d have an OUA type regatta out west and OUAs moved forward a couple of weeks, but the season is so short. It’s a very complex situation,” Mehlomakulu said.

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