Braedan Willis, University of Victoria
The University of Victoria Vikes men’s rowing team is set to begin their season this weekend in Leduc, Alta when they compete at the Western Canadian Rowing Championships on Oct.13.
The Vikes captured gold medals in three events last year and finished second overall to their always strong rivals, the UBC Thunderbirds.
With the Canadian University Rowing Championships coming up on Nov. 3, hosted in St. Catharines, Ont., the Vikes will have their first opportunity since Aug. 5 to test themselves against real competition in preparation for nationals.
“The team is excited to have the chance to race again in Leduc this weekend,” said Vikes head coach Aalbert Van Schothorst. “We haven’t had a chance to test our speed against real competition since August so the crew is this happy that University of Calgary and their head coach Mark Laidlaw has been able to pull together the resources to host this event. It will be a great opportunity to evaluate the team before Nationals in November.”
Westerns will be the first time the Vikes program hits the line together since they dispersed to allow their athletes to compete in a series of international competitions. Travis Gronsdahl, Mathew Szymanowski and Lucien Brodeur represented Canada at the U23 World Championships in Poznan, Poland. Ty Adams and Daan Arscott each spent the summer training for the FISU Games in Shanghai, China and several other members of the Vikes program competed at the Royal Canadian Henley in St. Catharines in early August.
Van Schothorst is excited to see how the experience his athletes have gained will translate on the water while representing the Vikes.
“We’ve put together some combinations that we think will do well and will be test their speed in Alberta, ” said Van Schothorst, who is excited to see how the experience his athletes have gained will translate on the water. “Combinations of Captain Daan Arscott and Alec Stapff, Travis Gronsdahl and Isaac Donaldson and Ty Adams and Alec Sawers will throw down some effective challenges. Fifth-year Brett Larson and Lucien Brodeur will battle it out in the single and Mathew Szymanowski who raced both the quad and eight at worlds this summer is looking strong.”
“On the light weight men’s side, we’ve begun to develop some depth that is supporting that powerful top end being driven by Ellis Hollands who graduated from Brentwood College School a few years ago. Supporting him are Chris and Sebastian Gulka and Idjen Cabral, an athlete from the Vic City Rowing Club who has started to mature into one of our key lightweight spots. The light men will also be racing the light eight in this event and that has of course been producing some great speed to match and drive our JV crew,” commented Van Schothorst.
The Vikes will have two athletes representing Victoria for the first time this weekend, freshman Karl Hare and Joseph Peers.
“We’ve brought on a strong cohort of freshmen including notables like Karl Hare who represented Canada at Junior Worlds and Joseph Peers who capped off his career in Texas by placing second in the single at Youth Nationals in the United States. We look forward to watching them grow into their university career,” Van Schothorst said.
The Vikes will be without Taylor Perry and Patrick Keane this year. Both have taken the year to off from representing the Vikes and will turn their attention towards qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Coverage and results of the Western Canadian University Championships can be found at regattacentral.com.
Western Canadian University Rowing Championship Crews: