A gold-medal performance by Emily Jago and Jessica Busch in the U-23 Women's 2X event highlighted an impressive weekend for local rowers at the RowOntario Championships in Welland last weekend.
Of the nine entries that donned the Sudbury Rowing Club colours, five advanced to the finals, with Busch adding a bronze medal in the U-23 Women's 1X race, edging out Jago, who finished fourth.
The Laurentian tandem of Renald Casavant and Kevin Amirault placed fourth in their heat (Sr Men's 2X) while Adam May recorded a sixth place finish in the final of the Sr Men's 1X, ending up third in his heat on Saturday in the U-23 Men's 1X grouping.
Melissa Martel was also busy on both days, earning a fourth place final ribbon in the U-23 Lwt Women's 1X and duplicating that finish in the heats of the Sr Lwt Women's 1X division.
Making their first appearance, sort of, were Kiersten Holmberg and Emily Luong, crossing the finish line in fourth in their heat of the U-19 Women's 2X category. While Luong is making the jump from high school rowing to the more competitive summer stream for the first time this year, Holmberg was able to draw on previous experience overseas.
"Originally, I started rowing when I went to boarding school in Australia," sid the 16-year-old Lockerby Composite student, who returned to Sudbury with her family in January of 2012. "The (boarding) school got me involved. They have a starter course — I started in Grade 8 and continued until Grade 10."
Of course, there have been a couple of expected adjustments that were required, including a slightly different venue, when Holmberg returned to northern Ontario.
"We used to row on a river (in Australia)," she said. "The one thing we had to look out for was big riverboats that came by. Here, it's a bit easier because there's not as much traffic."
Of course, when you're on the water six days a week at six in the morning, you don't expect things to be all that busy on Lake Ramsey.
With a background in rowing fours, Holmberg has enjoyed the pairing, this summer, with Luong.
"In the four, you have someone coxing you, so you don't have to worry about steering," she said.
And like most avid rowers, Holmberg is quick to acknowledge the physical demands of the sport.
"I like the feeling you get after a hard row," she said. "You feel really accomplished, like you've really done something. It's a hard sport, there's no doubt about it."
On that topic, she and her partner see completely eye to eye.
"It's a lot of core, a lot of legs — you have to workout your whole body," Luong said.
Preparing for Grade 12 at Lockerby, the Rayside-Balfour native had only previously experienced the demands of rowing via the shortened secondary school season prior to this summer.
"I've always wanted to do it, but my mom wouldn't drive me from Chelmsford all the time," she said. "Once I got my license, I decided to join the competitive."
Given the schedules these rowers maintain, one can hardly blame Emily's mom. "We're out here every morning, six days a week," Luong explained. All under the watchful eye of Laurentian University head coach Amanda Schweinbenz.
"She's very hard on us," Luong noted of her coach. "We have to get it right. She trains us until we get it."
Not that she is about to complain. Very dedicated and quite detail-oriented by nature, Luong has been pleased with the extra progress made during the summer, perfecting every single aspect of her stroke.
"It's just little things that you just never would have time to learn in high school," she said.
With aspirations of attending university in town, the Lockerby senior will be well groomed to join Schweinbenz and company in the fall of 2013.
Posted by Laurel Myers