The Mustang rowing team turned in a very strong performance this weekend at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. Competing against Olympians, top-ranked American and Canadian schools and a number of national rowing teams, the Mustangs efforts were rewarded with respectable finishes on all fronts, including a first-place finish by the women’s lightweight fours.
The regatta, which takes place every October, is one of the top rowing competitions in the world, drawing many national team-caliber rowers from all over the world.
“The rowers exceeded my expectations,” Volker Nolte, head coach of the rowing team, said. “We had requests from our rowers for many years that we should go there, and after the outstanding performances from last year, I said this is the year we should go and show that we could do very well.”
The lightweight women’s four team pulled off a first place finish in their race. Consisting of Sarah Christensen, Alyssa Ethier, Sara Matovic, Melissa Falchuk and coxswain Celine Girard, the women beat out a field of 15 other teams to snatch the victory for Western.
“When I took over here, the lightweight women’s program was very weak,” Nolte reflected. “We put out a long term plan, and we are extremely glad that the plan worked out and now they’ve won this race which we certainly didn’t expect.”
The championship women’s four team finished strong in eighth place out of a field of 21 competitors. There was more good news for the Mustangs in this race, however, as rowing Canada took first place with a Mustang and a former Mustang on board in Jennifer Martins and Sarah Black, respectively.
The lightweight women’s single event saw Mustang Erin Snelgrove take fifth place while representing St. Catharines Rowing Club.
The men nearly replicated the women’s success, with the men’s championship four crossing the finish line third, just ahead of the United States National Team. The men’s lightweight eights were also successful, finishing seventh and beating out every other Canadian team.
Adam Rabalski, Western’s entry in the men’s champion single, faced the most difficult competition the regatta had to offer, including an Olympic gold medalist.
“Adam Rabalski probably had the toughest field of all the athletes there,” Nolte commented. “He is striving to become a national team athlete and go to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and he certainly showed that he has all the abilities to reach this goal.”
Despite the competition, Rabalski’s determination gave him an eleventh-place finish out of a field of 27 competitors.
For Nolte, the success at one of the world’s premier rowing competitions came as a result of the hard work of the coaches, athletes and all those who contribute to the rowing program.
“We have an outstanding coaching staff. I really believe that we provide our student rowers here at Western with the most modern training and the best training possible,” Nolte said. “Overall, we try to provide our student athletes with the best environment to improve to the highest level, and each student proved how far they want to go.”
Next up for the rowing team will be the Ontario University Athletics Championship, which will take place in St. Catharines on October 27.