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By Natalie Wise, Vikes Communications

November 4, 2012, VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s rowing team earned their third consecutive Canadian University Rowing Championship title, while the men added a silver medal, losing out by a lone point to first-place Brock University.

The women’s rowing team won the 2012 CURC title – their eleventh – by the narrowest of margins, as was predicted yesterday by Vikes head coach Rick Crawley as the UVic women finished day one right on par to win the title. The Vikes had an overall points total of 101 with the University of British Columbia only two points back, followed by Western University with 98.

“I think it was one of the closest three-way races ever,” said Crawley. “We’ve had a lot of close match-ups but this was on a different level.”

The Vikes came away from the championship with two gold medals, one in the women’s eight and one in the women’s lightweight double as the dynamic duo of Stefanie Miklosovic (Yellowknife, NWT) and Rachel Dennis (Victoria, B.C.) dominated both yesterday’s qualifying race as well as today’s final. The women’s eights crew had a two and a half second lead over second-place Queen’s University. Both lightweight and heavyweight divisions earned hardware in the singles as Emily Garry (Victoria, B.C.) posted a bronze medal time of 08:29.66 and Alyssa Weninger (Unity, Sask.) also rowed a second-place time of 08:30.69.

Coming in at fourth was the lightweight fours and in fifth were the heavyweight pairs, comprised of Renae Barks (Regina, SK) and Bronwyn Lawrie (Prince Rupert, BC).

“I think I’m more relieved than anything, it really came down to the wire,” said Crawley. “I’m very pleased with the girls, the eights were pretty dominant. They led from the start and won by almost three seconds.”

There is a good chance that CURC success for the Vikes will continue off the water as tonight, at the annual CURC banquet, Crawley has been nominated for Coach of the Year honours and Vikes stand-out Weninger is among the Athlete of the Year nominees.

The Vikes men improved upon last year’s third-place finish but are still on the hunt for their sixth national title after the last banner was won two years ago in 2010.

After placing in the top six in yesterday’s qualifying races and earning the right to row in all of today’s finals, the Vikes men fell short of their sixth national title as they earned 100 points, just one shy of gold medalists Brock University.

In the first men’s event of the day, Alex Walker (Victoria, BC) and Lee Hall (Victoria, BC) won gold in the lightweight men’s double. Also boasting a first-place finish in yesterday’s qualifying event, Walker and Hall have solidified their status as the best lighweight twosome in Canadian varsity rowing.

“We just established a lead at the thousand and didn’t look back,” said second-year Hall.

Second-place honours went to the Vikes’ heavyweight doubles crew of Connor McGuigan (Victoria, BC) and Will O’Connell (Victoria, BC) as they rowed a time of 07:00.24, unable to catch-up to Brock University’s twosome that crossed the line a full six seconds ahead of the Vikes men.

“It was an exceptional performance by McGuigan and O’Connell in the men’s pair,” said head coach of the men’s rowing team Howard Campbell. “They were fourth place in yesterday’s time trials and that performance gave us the opportunity for a title.”

The lightweight men’s duo of Walker and Hall then jumped into the lightweight doubles boat with Brendan Downey (Victoria, BC) and Jonathan Chandler (Brentwood Bay, BC) to win silver in one of the more exciting finishes of the day. The foursome rowed from fourth place into second in the last 500-metres of the race, nearly catching the leading Queen’s University boat but in the end falling just two seconds shy of the gold medalists.

Anthony Linton (Winnipeg, MB) kept it consistent from day one to day two as he rowed in the men’s heavyweight singles to another sixth-place finish while in the lightweight singles Downey came in fifth.

The men’s eights earned a bronze, just one second back from Brock University as Western University took first-place honours.

“I’m very proud of the men as everybody stepped it up today,” said Campbell. “This solid team performance is a huge step forward from last year’s disappointing third-place finish and it shows that our talent development program is moving us forward very quickly.”