McMaster's rowing teams score three medals at historic OUA championship
The Marauders row row row their boat all the way to the podium, securing the first gold medal for the rowing team in 20 years 🚣
The McMaster University rowing team competed at the Ontario University Athletics rowing championships on Oct. 29, capturing three medals in a historic team performance. The Marauders earned podium spots in the women’s double and lightweight fours and men’s lightweight double events. For the day, the men’s and women’s teams placed ninth and eighth respectively.
Sonia Odutola and Hayley Monson placed third in the women’s JV double with a time of 8:55.3. Members of the women’s novice fours, Rachel Caruk, Alexandra Wu, Erika Bullen, Victoria Epshtein and Annika Culhane won the gold medal for the maroon and grey.
Against 13 other schools, McMaster looked to improve on their two medal performance at last season’s championships. Due to the foggy conditions, the regatta took on a modified schedule where rowers competed for the podium in heats as opposed to needing to qualify through time trials.
On the women’s team, Amanda Ciezki and Nathalie Hilbert took home gold medals in their doubles event. Their time of 7:44.40 was more than three seconds ahead of the second placing duo of Ainsley Salmon and Rosemary O’Brien from Carleton. The medal marks a significant milestone for the rowing program, coming as their first OUA gold in two decades of competition.
“Everything that could’ve lined up for us did . . . We left it out there and I don’t think we could’ve done any better and I think the gold medal reflects that,” said Ciezki.
Ciezki, who started on the novice team in 2021, provides an outstanding example of the program and coaching staff’s ability to develop their student athletes. This is a major factor towards sustainable success in any sport at the school.
Competing in the lightweight women’s fours, Heidi Akot, Vivian Lee, Sarah Oresnik, Brianna Fournier and coxswain Jacqueline Huo placed third with a time of 8:24.30. Rounding out the podium, the rowers from Guelph took home silver after completing the race in 8:19.81. The Western Mustangs would go on to grab the top spot with an outstanding time of 7:53.08.
Members of last year’s bronze medalist group in the men’s lightweight fours Alex Cowman and Alex Barnes earned a silver medal for their efforts in the lightweight pairs. Their time of 7:41.13 was just 74 milliseconds ahead of third place rowers Maddox Harrison and Ethan Mason from Brock.
With only three varsity men competing for McMaster, the team was able to make the most of their limited roster size and add on another medal to the day’s total.
“It’s good to be up there and pushing ourselves and showing what we’re capable of doing. I think it’s really great to see the change in the team to become more of a winning team and hopefully it can continue in the future and maybe also get bigger,” said Cowman.
The men finished in ninth with 61 points in the contest and the women placed eighth with 132 points. The hometown Badgers placed first in the men’s standings while seven medals from the Mustangs helped propel their women to team gold.
Top finishers for the Marauders, Cowman and Barnes placed eighth in the time trials and second in the B finals for the men’s lightweight double. Taking on the lightweight single a few races later, Cowman recorded a time of 7:29.22 to place third in the B finals.
In the women’s lightweight fours, McMaster finished sixth in both the time trials and A finals. Competing in the lightweight doubles, the pair of Lee and Oresnik finished tenth in their qualifiers and fourth in the B finals, missing the top three by 40 milliseconds with a time of 7:32.55.
Despite the lack of hardware at nationals, the success at OUAs indicates great potential for both the men’s and women’s team next season. Continuing their novice recruitment and athlete development will help the rowing program to grow the roster’s depth and flourish for years to come.