O’Connell, Miklosovic recognized by Vikes rowing as outstanding rowers of the year

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By Natalie Wise, Vikes Communications

April 8, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – On Saturday, Apr. 6, the University of Victoria Vikes rowing teams’ took the opportunity to honour several of their outstanding athletes at the program’s annual year-end banquet.

The top awards of the evening, presented by men’s head coach Howie Campbell and women’s head coach Rick Crawley, went to fourth-year Will O’Connell on the men’s side and Stefanie Miklosovic on the women’s side.

At this year’s event it was Vikes alum and 2012 Olympian Darcy Marquardt that stole the show as she delivered a keynote address highlighting how the Vikes program kick-started a rowing career that would eventually go on to include, amongst several other international accolades, a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

The banquet presented an excellent opportunity to highlight some successes of the past year, among them another Western Canadian University Rowing Championship gold for the men and a third Canadian University Rowing Championship title, in as many years, for the women.

O’Connell was recently named as the Vikes’ Male Athlete of the Year at the 2013 Celebration of Champions and was given the same recognition by UVic’s rowing program as Outstanding Rower of the Year.

“It would be crazy not to give this award to Will,” said Campbell. “He’s such a fantastic leader and competitor.”

O’Connell has medalled at every single CURC event that he has attended over the course of his four years with the Vikes and in the fall of 2012 the men’s captain earned a silver in the pairs and a bronze in the eights.

Miklosovic, a gold medallist at the 2012 CURC, was named as the women’s team’s Outstanding Rower of the Year. Originally from Yellowknife, the fifth-year helped the Vikes to win the 2013 Brown Cup and despite competing as a lightweight, made the varsity eights crew.

Each year a special award is given in honour of Vikes alum, Mr. Tony Zasada, who died after being struck by a drunk driver only five days upon returning from a fifth-place finish in the coxed pair at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. The Tony Zasada award is given to an athlete from the men’s team and the women’s team that best exemplifies Zasada’s spirit as a team player and a leader. For the 2012-13 season, it was men’s rower Brendan Downey (Victoria, BC) and women’s rower Bronwyn Lawriethat were recognized.

Highlighting the importance of the men’s and women’s development programs, assistant coaches Pat Newman and Kim Hawker presented the men’s and women’s Novice of the Year awards. For the men it was Ian Jeske and for the women Erin Moen.

The Rookie of the Year awards, given to an athlete with previous rowing experience but in their first year with the Vikes, was handed to men’s rower Alex Walker, winner of the men’s lightweight doubles at the 2012 CURC. For the women’s program it was Elizabeth McConnell who received the nod.

For outstanding support of the Vikes rowing program, fifth-year captain Claire McCormick was honoured with the Service Award, alongside Vikes rowing president Keely Stenberg.

2012-13 UVic Vikes Rowing Award Winners

Outstanding Rower of the Year: Will O’Connell and Stefanie Miklosovic

Tony Zasada Award: Brendan Downey, Bronwyn Lawrie

Most Improved Rower Award: Thomas Rogers, Amanda Pomphrey

Novice of the Year: Ian Jeske, Erin Moen

Rookie of the Year: Alex Walker, Elizabeth McConnell

Spirit Awards: Gillian Eeles

Service Award: Claire McCormick, Keely Stenberg

Graduating Athletes: Jane Gumley, Gillian Eeles, Cay-Lee Honey, Lara Kemp, Bronwyn Lawrie, Claire McCormick, Lauren McClennen, Stefanie Miklosovic, Megan Smith,Keely Stenberg, Antje Von Seydlitz