LLRC rowers ‘sweep’ to success at NWIRA Championship

LLRC's team for the junior men' eight rows to victory. (Photo by Becky Heflin)
LLRC’s team for the junior men’ eight rows to victory. (Photo by Becky Heflin)
By Jodene Marquis
For The Pioneer

It was a weekend full of exciting races and thrilling finishes for local rowers competing in the North West International Rowing Association (NWIRA) Championship August 19 and 20, at Rabbit Lake in Kenora, Ontario. The event marked the culmination of the summer rowing season for clubs in Minnesota and Canada, including 17 local rowers representing Long Lake Rowing Crew, who garnered some impressive honors for their team.

The North West International Rowing Association, founded in 1885, is a regional association of Canadian and American rowing clubs of the Upper Mid-Western United States and Western Canada. This was the 113th Annual Championship and was hosted this year by the Kenora Rowing Club. Ten clubs participated in a total of 102 races over the course of the weekend. LLRC entered 15 junior rowers (high schoolers) and 2 collegiate rowers in 31 races that featured both disciplines of rowing: sculling, in which rowers use two oars; and sweeping, where rowers use only one oar.

All LLRC juniors who raced advanced to the finals held on Saturday. Sixteen of those 18 junior crews medaled—eight of them gold. In addition, LLRC captured the Junior Division Championship Cup with over 200 team points, doubling their 2015 total. In total team points, LLRC placed third behind St. Paul, who had 78 entries, and Winnipeg, who had 83 entries. LLRC’s impressive overall score of 58% with just 31 entries—under half the entries of the larger clubs—earned the team the Efficiency Award for the second year in a row.

Coach Miller had high praise for his rowers and the team’s overall results. “Our rowers have worked hard all summer. It took a full team effort to make these wins possible, and every single athlete stepped up when it was time,” Miller said.

Both Miller and assistant coach, Sandi McCarthy, were thrilled with how well the team performed. One noteworthy accomplishment was the team’s first-place win in the Junior Men’s Eight race with coxswain. “It was the first time our LLRCrew boys competed all together in a sweep race, and the first time some of these boys had ever rowed in an 8. It was such an exciting race, full of all the thrills you’d expect of a big win at a championship regatta! Our coaching staff couldn’t be more proud of the entire team,” Miller said.

LLRC won the Efficiency Award, titled the CAN-AM Shield at the NWIRA Championships.  Seated, left to right: Samantha Fischer, Assistant Coach: Sandi McCarthy, Head Coach: Nicholas Miller, Danika Brockman, Reinnen Pfleider. Standing, left to right: Aaron Patterson, Andy Berrell, Chris Jones, Ryan Rudow, George Esau, John Mikkelson, Drew Mitchellette, J.J. Heflin, Cameron Davison and Jack Marquis.  (Photo by Becky Heflin)
LLRC won the Efficiency Award, titled the CAN-AM Shield at the NWIRA Championships. Seated, left to right: Samantha Fischer, Assistant Coach: Sandi McCarthy, Head Coach: Nicholas Miller, Danika Brockman, Reinnen Pfleider. Standing, left to right: Aaron Patterson, Andy Berrell, Chris Jones, Ryan Rudow, George Esau, John Mikkelson, Drew Mitchellette, J.J. Heflin, Cameron Davison and Jack Marquis. (Photo by Becky Heflin)
Here are some highlights of the weekend:

In the Junior Women’s Single: Samantha Fischer took 1st place and Natalie Steine took 2nd. The team of Fischer and Steine were awarded 2nd place in the Junior Women’s Double. In the Junior B (under 15) Women’s Double: Anna-Maya Sipila and Ava Winkels were awarded 1st place. The team of Sipila, Winkels, Reinnen Pfleider and Mina Abukhadra took 1st in the Junior B (under 15) Women’s Quad.

In the Junior Men’s Single: George Esau took 1st, with Ryan Rudow in 3rd and J.J Heflin in 4th place. Rudow also competed in the Lightweight Men’s single event, and earned a 2nd place finish. In the Junior Men’s Double: Esau and Heflin took 1st place and Rudow and Drew Mitchellette took 3rd. The team of Andy Berrell and Jack Marquis placed 2nd in the Junior B (15 and under) Men’s Double. In the Junior Men’s Four w/Cox: Esau, Rudow, Berrell and Heflin, lead by coxswain Danika Brockman, took 1st place. Another 1st place was awarded to the team of Esau, Rudow, Aaron Patterson and Heflin for the Junior Men’s Quad. In a hard fought battle, the team of Berrell, Mitchellette, Cameron Davison and Marquis took 2nd place in the Junior B Men’s Quad.

For the 29th time in its history, the Winnipeg Rowing Club took home the big honor, the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup, awarded to the club with the most aggregate points earned overall. LLRC earned enough points to finish a solid third in its first year as a member of the association. The 2017 NWIRA Championship Regatta will be held closer to home in Lake Elmo next August.

Long Lake Rowing Crew provides a safe, inspiring and educational opportunity for people of all ages to learn, enjoy and excel in the sport of rowing, for both competition and recreation. LLRCrew is a volunteer-driven, non-profit club committed to knowledgeable instruction, personal and competitive achievement, and the wellbeing of its members and the greater Long Lake community. For more information, visit www.longlakerowing.org