HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
The Nakkertok Nordic Ski Club, the Carleton University men’s basketball team and the Rideau Canoe Club are vastly different programs. But they share one common denominator.
They are all the best in Canada and have been for a number of years.
Nakkertok is zipping along a classic track powered by 11 consecutive national titles. Carleton has slam dunked its opposition 10 times in the past 11 Canadian finals, including the last four and 16 over the last 19 years.
Rideau Canoe Club continued to keep pace with the region’s sporting elite by winning its fourth consecutive Canadian canoe sprint championship burgee in Shawinigan, Que., over the past five years (no nationals were staged in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).
If you look at the past 10 national championship standings since 2012, Rideau is the only club to be consistently in the top three. Its eight podium finishes break down this way – five firsts (including 2015 on its home course), two seconds (2017 and 2013) and one third (2016).
When it comes to winning the most national championship burgees, Rideau now has 11 and is alone in second place, having pulled away from 10-time champions Burloak, Cartierville and Lachine. Its next long-term goal is to track down Mississauga at 19 titles.
Rideau’s latest national championship came 99 years after capturing its first in 1923 as the Rideau Aquatic Club.
Setting the championships’ point record at 1,016 in 2019, Rideau held first place from start to finish in the five-day nationals and finished with 832. Maskwa Aquatic Club of Halifax was second at 693 and Senobe Aquatic Club of Dartmouth, N.S., was third at 520. Carleton Place Canoe Club and Ottawa River Canoe Club were 17th and 18th respectively at 81 and 71 points.
“With COVID impacting competition for the past three years, this was the first opportunity for many of our athletes to compete at a nationals with crew and war-canoe events,” head coach Cheyenne Farquharson said in a Rideau Canoe Club press release.
“It was awesome to see our younger athletes embrace the spirit and competition of a national championships and to give it their all in each race. Ultimately, it was these young athletes racing to make an A final or to finish strong in their heat that made the difference in our defending the national championship burgee.”
The women’s U16, U18 and junior teams and the war-canoe teams were the powerful forces behind another paddle to prominence for Rideau. The three women’s squads also won their respective age-group burgees, while the men’s U16 and junior teams were runners-up.
The Zojtyk sisters – Abby, Amelia and Zoe – were the most successful paddlers wearing the purple and white Rideau singlets. They combined for 12 gold, one silver and one bronze medals in individual and crew-boat finals over three different age groups.
Abby led the family parade with five women’s U16 gold medals in the C1 1,000 and 6,000 metres, the C2 500 and 1,000 metres with Julia Price, and the C4 1,000 metres with Naomi Langenbahn, Ruby Muhl and Price. Wojtyk also was part of Rideau medal sweep in the C1 200 metres as Muhl won and was followed by Price and Wojtyk.
Muhl and Price also had the fastest C2 boat over 500 metres.
Amelia collected four women’s junior gold medals with firsts in the C1 500 and 1,000 metres and in the C2 200 and 500 metres with Evie McDonald, who won the C1 200 metres. McDonald also joined Mackenzie Haines, Sarah Rumscheidt and Anna Semeniuk for bronze in the C4 500 metres.
Zoe opened the championships with a silver medal in the women’s U18 C1 200 metres, but finished strong, winning the C1 500 metres, the C2 500 metres with Mila Souilliere and the C4 500 metres with Semeniuk, Souilliere and Janina Winnicki.
Olympian Madeline Schmidt posted wins in the women’s senior K1 500 metres and the K2 1,000 metres with Emily Best along with second-place results in the K2 500 metres with Olivia Pucci and the open K4 200 metres with Natalie Davison, Pucci and Ina Zeng.
Brianna Hennessy of the Ottawa River Canoe Club was perfect in her four Paralympic races with four victories, capturing the open women’s V-1 200 metres and K1 200 metres twice each during the championships.
Ydris Hunter collected a total of six medals over two age groups – two gold, two silver and one bronze in men’s junior as well as one bronze in men’s senior.
Hunter’s victories came in the men’s junior C1 200 and 1,000 metres, second-place finishes in the C2 200 and 500 metres with Kieran Graham and a third in the C4 1,000 metres with Stuart Bradley, Graham and Adam Richard.
In the men’s senior C1 500 metres, Hunter placed third.
Rideau’s other national champions were: Peter Bradley and Stuart Bradley, men’s U18 C2 1,000 metres; Sloan Fletcher, Paddle-All open men’s K1 200 metres; Gabriel Ferron-Bouius, Para open men’s K1 200 metres; open mixed 500-metre war canoe; U16 mixed 500-metre war canoe; women’s junior 500-metre war canoe; and women’s senior 500-metre war canoe.
WINNING WEEKEND FOR OTTAWA’S FOOTBALL TEAMS
Ottawa’s top football teams registered a rare statistic – the Carleton University Ravens, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Ottawa Sooners, the Ottawa Junior Riders and the Ottawa Redblacks posted victories on the weekend.
Kaseem Ferdinand took a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tanner De Jong, quarterback Tristan Rinaldis ran one-yard for a touchdown and Joshua Ferguson raced seven yards for a six-pointer as Carleton defeated McMaster 24-18 in OUA football.
Corey Grant earned his first win as the Ravens’ head coach in his debut game, a feat which hadn’t been achieved since Kim McCuaig in 1969. Fifth-year defensive lineman Shaheem Charles-Brown set a club record with four sacks, while Tayo Smith and Eryk Bujalski had six solo tackles each.
Campbell Fair connected on four of six field-goal attempts, including the game-winning three-pointer with seven seconds remaining, as the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees edged the University of Windsor Lancers 19-16.
Fair, who booted the winning field goal in the 2021 Panda Game against Carleton, was good from 38 yards out to give the Gee-Gees a season-opening victory. He also kicked field goals from 42, 46 and 30 yards. His 46-yard kick was a personal-best achievement by one yard and his four-field-goal effort matched a career-best showing.
Gee-Gees’ quarterback Ben Maracle had a two-yard run for Ottawa’s only touchdown. Fair added the convert.
The Sooners improved to 2-1 in the Ontario Football Conference as they scored all their points in the first half to defeat Hamilton Hurricanes (nationally ranked No. 8) 28-21.
Legendary Ottawa Rough Riders’ quarterback Russ Jackson gave the Hamilton players and coaches an inspirational talk before the game, which was the first time the Hurricanes played in Hamilton (Tim Hortons Field) in four years. For the last two seasons, the club played in Brantford.
The undefeated Ottawa Jr. Riders shut out Les Loups du Nord 22-0 for their second win in the Quebec Major Junior Football League.
Quarterbacks accounted for all three Redblacks’ touchdowns as Caleb Evans had two and Nick Arbuckle added one as Ottawa defeated host Edmonton Elks 25-18 in the CFL. Lewis Ward kicked a field goal.
GO KINGFISH SWIMMER ASHLEY McMILLAN EARNS JR. PAN PACS SILVER MEDAL
Ashley McMillan of the Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club won the silver medal in the women’s 200-metre individual medley on the final night of the 2022 outdoor Junior Pan Pacific swimming championships in Honolulu. She was timed in 2:13.31.
She also placed fourth in the women’s 4×100-metre medley and the 4×100-metre mixed medley relays, and was seventh in the 100-metre breaststroke in 1:11.60.
“I don’t know if there’s just one favourite moment, but anytime I’ve walked out for a final or a relay, I could see everyone on Team Canada screaming,” McMillan told Swimming Canada. “They do this cheer and everyone is getting hyped up. We definitely got our cheer down by the last night.”
Greater-Ottawa Kingfish product Regan Rathwell of Ashton, ON., and the High Performance Centre – Ontario was fifth in the 200-metre backstroke in 2:12.47 and also swam the opening leg of the 4×100-metre medley relay.
Danika Éthier of the Kingfish placed sixth in the women’s 100-metre breaststroke in 1:10.89. Nepean-Kanata Barracudas’ Julie Brousseau, who tied the record for most medals won at a single Canada Summer Games at 11 with six gold, one silver and four bronze, was sixth in the women’s 200-metre breaststroke in 2:34.85.
INTERESTING SEND-OFF TO U23 WORLDS FOR SOPHIA JENSEN
Cascades Canoe Club’s Sophia Jensen had the most unusual preparation for this week’s world U23 canoe sprint championships in Szeged, Hungary. But at the same time, it was probably the most fun.
Jensen competed in the invitation-only International Canoe Federation Super Cup in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Paddlers were pulled out of their comfort zones and raced over 350 metres, instead of 200, 500 or 1,000 metres, as well as competing in a mixed team 1,500-metre relay.
And the finals were held at night, which was a first for Jensen, who qualified for the final in both her races.
Racing in lane one, Jensen and Poland’s Wiktor Glazunow finished fourth out of nine teams in the relay in 7:47.98. Teams were made through a random draw by the paddlers.
After winning her women’s C1 350-metre heat and placing second in the semifinal, Jensen was fourth in the four-racer final in 1:26.63. Chile’s Maria Mailliard won in 1:24.14.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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