Crossley eight goes back-to-back
Early on, it wasn’t smooth sailing for the E.L. Crossley senior men’s eight.
“It was really rough at the start,” crew member Aidan Smouter said Sunday, after he teamed with Andy Nawrocki, Hudson Stortz, Alessio Perco, James Cuff, Liam Shapland, Mason Kirton, Aidan Smouter, Preston Darling and Dario Cirello to win gold at the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association championships.
“It was a new crew except me, stroke seat and third seed who were returning from last year when we won the eight but everyone else they were bringing up from Grade 10 and 11. They were brand new senior men and they were green for the senior categories. Our first regatta was in Buffalo and it was a really tough race.”
The crew finished second in that regatta but went undefeated the rest of the way.
“After that regatta, everyone started stepping up and focusing and they realized what it was like to be in the senior men’s eight races. They started stepping up their game.”
The crew was driven by its desire to win CSSRA gold.
“As far as I am aware, this is the first time Crossley has ever won two men’s eights back-to-back,” Smouter said. “Our coach telling us that and us as individuals wanting to make that happen is what really drove the boat today.”
Because of Saturday’s nasty weather, Sunday’s event consisted of two heats with the winner being the fastest boat overall.
Racing against the clock instead of other boats was an uncomfortable feeling for the crew.
“It is very scary,” he said.
Thankfully for Crossley, it had Vancouver in the same race and the British Columbia boat pushed them all the way down the course.
“Without that, I am not sure what could have happened. We could have came second or third.”
Smouter and teammate Darling were double gold medalists at the regatta. On Saturday, they won the senior men’s pair. It was the first time the two had raced the pair together.
“We time trialled it a lot but our coach sent us out in a double couple times but for the rest of the season it was either a quad or and eight,” Smouter said. “Most of the time I am in bigger boats.”
CHURCHILL’S GOLDEN DOUBLE
Sir Winston Churchill’s women’s senior double, made up of Kairsen Frick and Makaeda Harrison, capped an excellent season this weekend by winning gold at the CSSRA championships.
Earlier this spring, the boat won the Stotesbury Cup, the Mother’s Day Regatta and the Early Bird Regatta.
For Harrison, who has been rowing since the fall of Grade 9, it was her first Schoolboy gold medal
“It was so exciting,” the 17-year-old Grade 12 student said. “I just wish it could have been the usual final but it was really awesome to look at the times and see that we had won.”
She had a blast rowing with Frick.
“I think we came together really quickly, we rowed well and we both had the same goal. We knew we wanted to win, we had that strong work ethic and everything came together.”
The two clicked right away even though they only started rowing together this spring.
Harrison has little time to rest as she and partner Ingrid Eshuis (Eden) will be competing at this week’s selection camp for the national junior team which starts Monday. They are the top-ranked boat in the pair.
It was easy for Harrison to focus on Sunday’s race and not get too far ahead of herself.
“The excitement of being here is this racing environment made me forget what I have later in the week.”
Frick, who also won silver in the mixed quad, was celebrating her first Schoolboy gold Sunday. She won bronze in the novice women’s eight in 2022
“It was awesome. It is really great and it would have been more exciting crossing the line knowing we had won gold but it is definitely still exciting.”
She credited the win to being a good fit with Harrison.
“I think we row really well together. We match our timing really well and we have really good chemistry in the boat.”
That chemistry is crucial to success.
“It is super important,” Frick said. “Having good timing and working as one to get across the line is crucial.”
Frick is now done with spring rowing but plans to compete with the St. Catharines Rowing Club this summer.
RIDLEY TOPS SENIOR MEN’S QUAD
Ridley College’s Mahmoud Radwan combined with three new crewmates to win gold Saturday in the senior men’s quad at the CSSRA championships .
Last year, the native of Egypt won gold in the lightweight double and bronze in the senior men’s quad. He was the only returning member of the quad.
The quad, made up of Caillen Pieckenhagen, Elliott Leal, Benjamin Oabel and Radwan, was a different boat compared to 2022.
“I think a lot of it was our culture. To be fair, we aren’t the most powerful guys out there. We train hard and we do everything we can but a lot of it comes down to our culture and our ability to take technical changes and implement them,” Radwan said. “For example, our ability to lay back at the finish and holding the finish. We made a lot of technical changes that only applied to our boat.”
Radwan, who has been attending Ridley College for five years, describes the boat’s culture as always being there for each other.
“On and off water, we congratulate and follow each other in our successes. We are all very interconnected and we hang out outside of practice.”
There were other factors that also helped.
“Personality-wise, we meshed really well,” Radwan said.
The Ridley Crew also won at the Mother’s Day Regatta and placed fourth at the Stotesbury Cup.