Rowers see national success

Nolte named Coach of the Year

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western men's rowing

Courtesy of Genna Wood

READY, DOWN, SET, HUT...WAIT, THAT'S THE WRONG SPORT. Western's men's rowing team captured its second consecutive gold medal at nationals this past weekend. The women's team was also successful, placing fourth.

The taste of gold never seems to get old for Topher Morris and the rest of the men’s rowers, who, for the second straight year, captured gold at the Canadian University Rowing Championships.

Morris, captain of the men’s lightweight boat, said the team came together over the past two weeks.

“We headed down to [Ontario University Athletics two weeks ago] and that was a tough regatta for everyone. We won the banner because we all worked together, but no one really stepped up and made big pushes and big contributions, it was the team as a whole that won it,” he said.

“Last weekend at Canadian [Nationals] was the exact opposite. All the crews really stepped up their game in the championships to take the victory.”

The men finished with 77 team points, placing them 18 points ahead of Queen’s University and 28 points ahead of the University of Victoria.

In total, the men medalled in all six events, including three gold medals in the lightweight singles, lightweight doubles and heavyweight eight. They also captured silver medals in the heavy singles, heavy pair and heavy fours races.

Danny Matthews, captain of the men’s heavyweight team, attributed the team’s success to its strict regimen throughout the year.

“We race every weekend, so we incorporate that into our training schedule. We taper down towards the big regattas but we train through the other ones,” he said. “We have training camp at the beginning of the year which is the most intense thing we do.”

The women captured fourth place with 28 team points, nabbing second place in the lightweight singles event.

With a young squad in both the lightweight and heavyweight events, the team was happy with its finish at nationals and its second place finish at OUA championships last week.

“We had 20 new recruits who were in first year, so we had a developing year definitely,” Lindsay Sferrazza, captain of the heavyweight team, said. “Our best race this year was our OUA final in the eights.”

“The lightweight women had a great season based on our expectations,” lightweight captain Caroline Kenning added. “I think we performed to the best of our capabilities ... in the eights for example there was a young group of girls who won silver at OUAs. That was as well as they could have done.”

Beyond team success, men’s coach Volker Nolte was named men’s Coach of the Year, while rower Tim Colson shared Oarsmen of the Year honours with Mike Wilkinson from Queen’s.

Colson spoke about the devotion Nolte brings to the rowing program.

“He really puts his heart and soul into the rowing season,” he said. “He is there every morning at 5 a.m. and, more than a coach, he’s almost like a father figure for the whole team and really implements a fighting spirit that I think really helps foster individual outstanding performances.”

Even with some veterans leaving this year, Morris believes the men’s team won’t miss a beat next season.

“We had a really good recruiting season this year so hopefully a lot of guys can step up and make a lot of strides this winter. We are losing a few guys, but for the most part a lot are coming back so it looks good.”

"With files from Katie Graves and Stephanie Ramsay

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