Chilliwack rowers lead UFV at Western Canadian Championships

Erin Steele, Mitchell Wierks, Clayton DeVries and Graeson Lounsbury paddled on Elks Lake.

A University of the Fraser Valley rowing club led by Chilliwack paddlers turned in a series of solid results at the Western Canadian Rowing Championships, hosted on Saturday by the Victoria Vikes on Elk Lake.

Heading into the regatta, Cascades head coach Liz Chisholm noted that with teams allowed to enter up to four boats in each category, it would be tremendously difficult to qualify for the A finals.

The host Vikes and UBC Thunderbirds, after all, boast rosters laden with national team rowers and are national university banner winners many times over.

“Our goal was to hit the top of the B final – to be the top of the remaining Western Canadian crews,” Chisholm explained. “There were probably a minimum of 10 Olympians and World Championship winners in UBC and UVic’s boats. When we got down to the B final, the biggest thing was, who’s going to be the top UFV boat and go on to represent us at the Canadian University Championships.”

The Cascades had two boats entered in both the men’s and women’s pairs events, and while they didn’t win their respective B finals, they did finish ahead of all other universities outside of the front-running Vikes and T-Birds.

In the women’s pair, the UFV duo of Angelica Evans (Abbotsford) and Michelle Olive (Abbotsford) finished second in the B final to a UVic entry in a time of 8:10.83, and teammates Karen Chung (Maple Ridge) and Erin Steele (Chilliwack, 8:19.31) finished just behind them in third place.

The Cascades also fashioned a two-three finish in the men’s pair B final behind a Victoria boat, with Stephen Wall (Coquitlam) and Mitchell Wierks (Chilliwack, 7:14.69) taking second place ahead of teammates Graeson Lounsbury (Chilliwack) and Clayton DeVries (Chilliwack, 7:19.29).

It was an extremely fast B final; both UFV boats’ times would have been good for third in the A event.

In the lightweight men’s double, the Cascades’ Kyle Fischer (Langley) and Andrew Stahl (Abbotsford)finished seventh in a combined A/B final in a time of 7:32.72. UFV’s novice rowing club also participated in the championship, finishing sixth in the novice women’s 8+.

Up next for the Cascades rowers is the Canadian University Rowing Championships, which will be contested Saturday and Sunday at Burnaby Lake.

Wall and Wierks earned the right to represent UFV in the men’s pair at that event by virtue of edging the other Cascades boat at the Western Canadians, and UFV’s three eligible women’s pairs rowers – Olive, Chung and Steele – will seat-race this week to determine the makeup of the women’s pair entry at the championship.

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