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MailTribune.com
  • ROWING

    Rowing club as good as gold

    Ashland club members win six Canadian national titles at RCA Masters
  • ASHLAND — The boat was supposed to be their aquatic showpiece, not a disfigured wreck on the side of the road.
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    • ASHLAND ROWING CLUB
      WHO: A club that often practices and competes at Emigrant Lake (175 Emigrant Lake Rd.)
      • WHAT: Won six gold medals, four silvers and five bronzes in the Canadian masters championships l...
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      ASHLAND ROWING CLUB
      WHO: A club that often practices and competes at Emigrant Lake (175 Emigrant Lake Rd.)

      • WHAT: Won six gold medals, four silvers and five bronzes in the Canadian masters championships last weekend.
      • MORE INFO: ashlandrowingclub.org
  • ASHLAND — The boat was supposed to be their aquatic showpiece, not a disfigured wreck on the side of the road.
    One of the Ashland Rowing Club's prized shells was destroyed after the trailer carrying it flipped during a trip to Edmonton, Alberta, for the world games in 2005. Several others were damaged.
    It was a painful blow for the group, which had used the boat to help deliver national championships in years past.
    The club was unable to replace it until just this year — days before the Rowing Canada Aviron Canadian Masters Championships in Burnaby, British Columbia, last weekend.
    The four men who powered the new shell on Lake Burnaby — Erik Glatte, Andy Baxter, Steve Kiesling and Jim Sims — had no trouble adjusting to it during the men's 4+ (with coxswain) D-E final.
    "I hate to use the word annihilated, but they dominated," Ashland Rowing Club head coach Joe Lusa says.
    That victory — which had competitors ranging in age between 50 to 59 — was one of the most significant highlights for the club, which took home six Canadian national championship gold medals, four silvers and five bronzes while going up against a field of 570 entrants and 50 teams from the United States, Canada, Argentina, Germany and New Zealand.
    The Ashland Rowing Club often practices and competes at Emigrant Lake, where in 2000 it purchased a public rowing dock. In addition, the club built and maintains public boat racks on the lake shore. Anyone can participate.
    Competing in a sport that requires core balance, arm strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance, the group proved that age is just a number at the regatta, which featured 1,000-meter racing Saturday and Sunday. The club secured titles in categories as high as the G division, which is for rowers who are between the ages of 65 and 69.
    Its top members have knowledge and experience to match their good health.
    Kiesling wrote the book "The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence," about his time at Yale and on the U.S. Olympic team. He helped create the club and also started a high school rowing team here that was converted into a juniors program.
    Baxter trained with Kiesling for the Olympic Games in 2008 and authored a book of his own, "Racing Yesterday." The pair captured world championships in 2006 in the men's 4 (where four rowers are in the boat) and 8 (eight rowers).
    Those two, along with Glatte and Sims, form a world-class quartet. They cruised to their 4s triumph in 3 minutes, 21.33 seconds. Glatte was the "stroke" on the boat, meaning he was closest to the stern.
    "When we went to the heat and looked at the times from other heats, we thought we should be competitive, but we'll have to work for it," Baxter says. "The fact of the matter is we blew it right open. We had three boat lengths of open water. We just crushed."
    It was a moment of redemption with the trailer accident behind them.
    The club's other championships came in the women's 8+ E (ages 55-59) with Judith Cope at stroke (3:42.36); the women's 2 C+ (age 43 and older) with Leslie Black at stroke and Marielke Funke as her partner (3:59.50); the women's 4 AA+ (age 21 and older) with Corinne Lombardi at stroke (3:48); the mixed 2x G+ (age 65 and older) with Ron Iverson at stroke (3:34.04); and the mixed 8+ D (age 50 to 54) final with Cindy Bernard at stroke (3:29.28).
    Ashland's silvers came in the women's lightweight (rower weight limit) 4x AA+ with Robin Pike (3:31.49); the women's 4+ E+ with Cope (3:39.66); the men's 8+ AA+ with Glatte (3:01.66); and the mixed 8+ E+ with Leslie Black (3:23.68).
    The club's bronze medals were in the women's 2x E with Barbara Faurot (4:11.15); the mixed 4x E with Lombardi (3:41.00); the women's lightweight 2x D+ final with Faurot (3:49.89); the mixed 2x G+ with Carl Prufer (3:42.45); and the mixed 8+ E+ with Steven Dewey (3:25.40). Baxter believes the group's victorious mixed 8+ boat is undefeated in the last two seasons. The squad includes him, Kiesling, Glatte and Brian Conrad in the middle, Bernard at stroke, Brooke Fredericks in the No. 7 seat, Sara Hamilton at the bow and Rachel Ball in the No. 2 seat.
    "It's been a hot boat," Baxter says.
    For Lombardi, who has been rowing for 14 years, the 4s went especially well.
    "It was an incredible race," she says. "Every piece felt like it was just gliding through silk."
    Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt
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