VICTORIA – The University of Victoria successfully hosted the 34th Annual Monster Erg event on Sunday, Feb. 3, a historically competitive and traditional event for the Vikes rowing program. The indoor event featured over 33 events, ranging from Junior Novice to Masters, and served as a sanctioned qualifier for the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Long Beach, Calif.


The 2019 event was organized by the Vikes women’s rowing program and for the first year the event was without recently-retired head coach Rick Crawley. In his first season at the helm of the Vikes women’s program, head coach Barney Williams was able to come in with a fresh perspective to bring a new wave of energy.

Vikes women’s rowing coach Barney Williams looking down from the concourse.

“I approached it with the idea of no rear-view mirror,” said Williams, who had previously competed in the event but never part of the organizing committee. “I really respected the history of the event and saw this as an opportunity to build on tradition. It was also an opportunity for the women’s rowing program to recalibrate their ownership and delivery of this event.”

The organizing committee was led by team captain Lily Copeland, recently graduated and now alumna Olivia King, as well as team manager Mikaela Smithers.

“After competing in Monster Erg three times as an athlete, stepping on as the chair of the event gave me a whole new sense of Vikes Nation pride,” said King. “The energy throughout the whole day was electric but the energy in the past two months leading up was even more special. The athletes themselves put so much work into this and it was amazing to see it all come together. As an alumna of the program myself I felt so supported in my role and I believe that is what allowed me to help oversee such a successful event.”

The event had many highlights including a strong alumni presence, several personal bests, open doors for community including participation from Cross Fit Victoria, as well as the presence of several other varsity athletes competing in the mixed relay. The Vikes men’s rugby team pulled an impressive performance to win the relay while members from women’s basketball, men’s cross country and track and soccer also participated.

Vikes men’s rugby player James O’Neill contributing to the victory in the mixed relay event.

“We had more athletes participating this year than last year even though we have a much smaller roster,” described Williams on the women’s rowing team. “We had a number of people hit personal bests and the majority of the squad were within 1-2 per cent of their personal best. There is nothing but momentum moving out of this and so much pride for hosting this event.”

One of the standout performances on the women’s side was second-year Vike Adrianna Rooker winning the Under 23 event in 7:09. Vike Piper Battersby finished second in 7:13.9. On the novice side, character was shown in the performances by Tess Mackay-Pettyjohn, who won the Under 23 lightweight single in 7:37.0, while Genevieve Olsen won the novice event in a personal best time of 7:34.2.

Second-year Vike Adrianna Rooker’s look of shock as she wins the Under 23 women’s event.

An alumni event was also hosted in the over-looking Blue and Gold Suite through the middle of the day. Former Vikes women’s field hockey player turned Olympic rower Anna-Marie de Zwager won the women’s masters event in 07:17.4.

“First impressions on alumni presence was that (the alumni event) is a keeper,” added Williams. “We had positive feedback and we saw numbers that really suggest that. We had over 30 alumni in the room actually taking part so that tells us there is an affinity for this event from our alumni. We will look to continue that sense of engagement and welcoming people home to the Blue and Gold Room.”

On the men’s side, Josh Novak won the novice men’s event in 6:12.5 with the next fastest person finishing in 6:28.1. Vike Tyler Adams took first in the Under 23 event in 6:09.9, while Ellis Hollands won the under 23 lightweight event in 06:33.6.

First-year Vike Josh Novak pulling hard to win the men’s novice event.

There were several members from the community competing in the Under 17, Under 19, Masters, and open events with the entire event being brought under as an official Vikes Nation event for the first time.

“Monster Erg is the kind of event that was built for Vikes Nation,” said Tanner Lorenson, Vikes Campus Engagement Officer. “Our volunteers and staff were thrilled to work with the rowing teams on such a long-standing event and infuse it with the spirit we pride ourselves on here on campus! The atmosphere in the performance gym from the athletes to the coaches to the fans was infectious and we’re looking forward to bringing even more to the event next year.”


With the programs’ largest indoor rowing event behind them, the Vikes will now turn their attention to preparations for the Elk Lake Spring Regatta, Mar. 2-3, and the pinnacle of their Spring season, the Brown Cup, set for Mar. 30 at the Gorge Waterway.