For the University of the Fraser Valley rowing program, the fall semester featured a series of strong performances at competitions south of the border.
On Oct. 29, the Cascades headed stateside for an inaugural event hosted by Western Washington University. The event drew entries from UBC, Simon Fraser University and Pacific Lutheran University, along with UFV and the host WWU Vikings.
The Cascades earned victories in the varsity men's four-plus and the junior varsity women's four, and the novice men's eight-plus finished second to Western Washington.
One week later, the UFV rowers travelled to Seattle to participate in the 37th annual Head of the Lake regatta. The historic three-mile course was made famous by the 1936 USA men's eight who won gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
UFV had four boats entered at Head of the Lake – a men's varsity four, two women's doubles, and a 3Varsity eight.
The Cascades coxed four, consisting of Stephen Wall, Riley Dueck, Mitchell Wierks, and alumni Mike Moreton and Ben Schreiner, had a race that was "messy but intense," according to team captain Riley Dueck. Coming through the Montlake Cut, the Cascades had to fend off crews from both Seattle University and the University of Oregon.
"It was like we were running for our lives," Dueck said. "In previous years we've come on top of all of the Division 2 American schools, and it was our goal to do that again this year, but Oregon and Seattle just snuck ahead of us."
The four rowers did not post UFV's fastest time at Head of the Lake, but were thrilled to have finished ahead of rival crew Western Washington University.
UFV's women's crew had two doubles compete – one consisting of Angelica Evans and Emily Klootwyk, and the other featuring Genelle Grubb and Michelle Olive. The lightweight women raced against elite open-weight crews – including many top-of-the-line University of Washington pairs – and managed top-10 finishes.
Also competing was the Cascades' third varsity men's eight. This group of newer rowers showed great confidence to compete at such a large regatta, and their enthusiasm shows amazing promise for the future of the UFV rowing program.
The team was thankful to Brad Jones and Ben Schreiner for volunteering their time to serve as stand-in coaches.
The Cascades rowers return to action in 2017 with a trio of events: the Beat the Beast Indoor Rowing Championship hosted by St. George's School (Jan. 30), the Elk Lake Sprints hosted by the University of Victoria (March 4-6), the Head of the Fort hosted by the Cascades on the Bedford Channel at Fort Langley (March 12), and the annual Cascade Cup Challenge men's race pitting UFV vs. Western Washington (date TBA).
For more on the team, visit ufvcascades.ca.