Sunraysia Academy of Sport athletes; Amy Rix, Lauren Fraser and Rhianna Duncan all medalled at the Victorian State Championships held in Ballarat on the weekend. All three girls are a part of the SAS Individual Athlete Support Program.
Wentworth District Rowing Club came away from Ballarat with a bag of medals and many outstanding performances from the Victorian State Rowing Championships held over the weekend.
Held in blustery conditions and battling strong tail/cross winds for most of the weekend, Wentworth overcame the conditions and strong opposition from much larger clubs from Melbourne and across the state to win 1 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals over the weekend.
Amy Rix and Mikaela Fraser won a gold medal in the womenâ€™s U17 double scull, Lauren Fraser won a silver medal in the U19 single scull, Amy Rix won bronze in the Open School-Girl single scull on Saturday and backed that up to win bronze again in the U17 single scull on Sunday and Lauren Fraser paired up with Rhianna Duncan to win a bronze in the U19 double scull.
In particular it was a strong, gutsy row by bottom-age U19 sculler Lauren Fraser to place second behind Firbankâ€™s Amanda Bateman in the U19 single that got peopleâ€™s attention. Bateman is a member of Australiaâ€™s Junior U19 rowing squad and represented Australia at last yearâ€™s World Cupâ€¦. Wentworth observers noted that Bateman stood nearly a foot taller and weighed in at close to 20 kilos heavier than their local girl !
Amy Rix had two great rows for her bronze medals, with the womenâ€™s U17 event in particular being a nail-biter. After 2000 grueling metres and 9 minutes of racing the first 3 place-getters were separated by only 0.95 sec (less than half a boat-length) as they crossed the line.
And topping off a stressful day for their coaches, Rhianna Duncan and Lauren Fraserâ€™s row for third place in the U19 double scull clawed back a half length deficit 200m out from the finish to edge out the highly fancied Essendon crew by 0.18 sec in what was the closest decision for a medal the judges made all day.
As well as medalling strongly, there were many other fine performances from the group in other events, with Natalia Radloff easily winning her heat of the womenâ€™s D-Grade single scull, but then unfortunately not coping with the strong cross-wind conditions as well as the others in her A-final and with the womenâ€™s U19 quad comprising Amy Rix, Hannah Murdoch, Lauren Fraser and Rhianna Duncan coming a very creditable 4th in their heat just going down to the eventual first 3 place-getters of that eventâ€™s final, in a close finish over the 2000m course.
Club captain Sam Cross was very satisfied with the girls showing over the weekend and said that the hit-out would stand the girls in good stead for the upcoming Nationals to be held in Sydney over March 24-30.
â€śThis has been the first opportunity to race our girls over 2000m this seasonâ€ť he said.
â€śWe took them to the SA State titles back in early February, but the regatta was cancelled due to the extreme heat conditions before any of our 2000m events could be run.
Because of the distances involved and the hassle of towing our boats 4-600km away to regattas down south or over in Adelaide, we have to be very selective about how many and which regattas we go to and then weâ€™re at the mercy of the weather with a place like Ballarat. But you canâ€™t beat match fitness and the kids need to be competing at these sort of regattas if they are to be competitive at the Nationals, which is our big goal this season.
Most of the girlâ€™s opposition in both the Schoolgirl and U17 / U19 events are racing every second weekend at club or Schoolgirl regattas held in Melbourne, Ballarat and Geelong, so these kids have been getting plenty of exposure to race conditions and each other. The first 2000m race our kids have had a chance to compete in was on Saturday in conditions that made it hard even for the bigger boat racing that was being held on the Lake.â€ť Cross said.
The life-guard rescue boats were certainly kept busy on Saturday with a menâ€™s four tipping over in one event and a number of single scullers coming to grief over the weekend.
â€śYou could see the Wenty girls improving with each race rowed, as they adjusted to the race pace of their previous rows and learnt how to handle the tough conditions. We have such pristine conditions for training up here at the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers that it can be a bit of shock sometimes to row on water like we experienced at Ballarat this weekend. Our girls will be much better for the hit-out and weâ€™re quietly confident of strong performances again at this yearâ€™s National Titlesâ€ť .
Written by Guy Wright, Wentworth Rowing Club