Queen’s rowers off to blazing start

Gaels spend Thanksgiving weekend at Brock, come away with six gold medals 

Bryenton (left), Stone (right) placed second in their race.
Bryenton (left), Stone (right) placed second in their race.
Credit: 
Supplied by Michael Bryenton

Queen’s rowing had plenty to be thankful for this past weekend. 

Coming out of their second regatta of the season at the annual Brock Invitational, the Gaels placed in ten events on Saturday, bringing home six gold medals in total. Each race was two kilometres in length. 

On the women’s side, Cassidy Deane and Paige Adams came out on top in the women’s pair. The duo would add another gold medal in the women’s coxed with teammates Charlotte Deacon and Katherine Walker.

To cap off the women’s group, fourth-year Greta Chase came second in the women’s lightweight single.

On the men’s side, fourth year Gavin Stone finished top of the podium for the heavyweight men’s single race and placed in second for the men’s heavyweight double competition with Michael Bryenton.  Meanwhile, Alex Bernst picked up two gold medals in the men’s lightweight single and the men’s double with long-time boat-mate, Nick Grubic. 

Grubic landed gold later that day with fourth-year Daniel Stret in their first race as a lightweight pair. 

Louise Munro, who was unable to race her events due to illness, was a notable absence in the Gaels’ lineup this weekend. Munro won a silver medal at nationals last year in the women’s single.

In an interview with The Journal, Alex Bernst said Munro will contribute to better results at the upcoming OUA Championships in October. 

“I’d argue we would have had eight [gold] medals if she had been able to compete,” Bernst said. 

Having raced in just two regattas, the Gaels are enjoying massive success to start their season, which could be a symptom of recent structural changes to their schedule. In recent years, Queen’s has slowly reduced its competitive schedule to focus on a more complete and consistent training schedule. 

 “It’s hard to keep interrupting your training with races,” Bernst said. “You almost get more value out of staying home and training.” 

Perhaps the most notable transition the program has undergone this season was the departure of Head Coach Phil Marshall, who accepted a position with Rowing Canada last spring. 

Bernst said it doesn’t feel much different without Marshall, as a lot of the changes that were made in his time as coach are still in place. 

“The changes were cultural,” Bernst said. “The way the team behaves and [how] everyone goes about their training and interact[s] with each other. Those were the bigger changes that we’ve made, and those are the changes we’ve kept.”

Currently, Rami Maassarani is the team’s volunteer head coach, working with Assistant Coach Katie Bruggeling. Maassarani has been the team’s assistant coach since 2013.

“It feels like we have two head coaches, because Katie does so much of the work and Rami has been with the team for so long,” Bernst said. 

Next up, the Gaels will get on the water for the OUA Championships on Oct. 26-27 in St. Catherines. 

Bernst said the team is feeling calm and confident after their performances over the weekend.

“I can’t see that any of the results will be any different at OUA’s [from this weekend],” Bernst said. “I think everyone’s pretty excited.”

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