For the second year in a row, Western's rowing teams dominated Ontario University Athletics and captured dual championship titles.
Always a top contender in the league, the Mustangs yet again proved how dynastic the Western rowing program truly is.
For the women’s team, this win marked their seventh consecutive OUA championship title. Though not consecutively, the men's have collected six OUA championship titles since 2010.
Women's light and heavyweights clean up
“It has been pretty gratifying to work with a group that is so determined to hold themselves to a such a high standard for so long,” said women’s head coach Matthew Waddell.
But their success spans back further than the 2013 season. Since gaining varsity status in 1973, the team has won a total of 28 OUA titles.
Needless to say, their reputation goes beyond dominance.
This year was certainly on par with that reputation and they performed as an all-round powerhouse at the championships.
Among top their performances was by second-year athlete Kyra Urabe. After transitioning from being a lightweight last year, Urabe overcame great technical challenges to find success in new events.
Evidently success is what she found, walking away from the championship with gold medals in the heavyweight women’s double and heavyweight women’s eight.
But the Mustangs gold streak didn’t end there — third-year rower Riley Knight picked up the gold medal in the lightweight women’s single. Additionally, Knight played an integral role in the gold medal won by the lightweight women’s eight.
Both the lightweight and heavyweight women’s eight boats won gold at this championship, which is quite extraordinary.
“Winning both the heavyweight and lightweight eight is a big achievement,” said Waddell. “That really shows that our team has the best depth in the province.”
In fact, it was the women’s eight events that sealed the championship title, a true team effort among the Mustangs.
Men's take gold in blowout
On the men’s side, victory was eminent quite early on into the championship.
After performing quite well at the Brock Invitational, the seeding regatta, the Mustangs had favourable lanes going into the championship.
However, a powerful opponent for both the women and men certainly pressed the Mustangs to perform. Like the Western crew, the Brock University Badgers have a large rowing team of great depth.
“We award championships based on aggregate points and [Brock] pushed us all the way,” said men’s head coach Dan Bechard. “I think that any championship needs to be hard fought and well-earned, and they made us do just that.”
While the Badgers provided the Mustangs with a push in some events, Western went simply unmatched in others.
The men’s heavyweight eight was one event where the Mustangs absolutely swept the competition. With a whopping 12 second lead, the men captured gold with virtually no contestation.
Key performers in the men’s eight included the dynamic duo of Curtis Ames and Ryan Clegg who led the team to success.
Ames and Clegg are prized veterans for the Mustangs and highly elite prospects among the Canadian national rowing team. At the championships, the two picked up another gold medal with a convincing victory in men’s heavyweight double.
In light of his performances this season, Ames was awarded OUA men’s athlete of the year. When asked about his individual success, Ames humbly deferred to talking about the goals of the greater team.
“The goal for the whole program has and will continue to be bring home four banners every year, two at OUAs and two at nationals,” said Ames. “We have been successful at OUAs for the past while, but we are looking to get back onto the national championship level with both of our teams. Our goal is to win absolutely. “
The team is traveling to Victoria, B.C. to compete at the Canadian University Rowing Championships from Nov. 2-3.
Though the Mustangs have yet to face their greatest competitors, the depth and talent of their team would suggest they are among Canada’s best.