August 6-21, 2022
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by: Bill Potrecz, BP Sports Niagara

Highlighted by Brock’s Stephen Harris, many Niagara rowers find the podium on the final day of competition

Stephen Harris opened and closed the final day of competition with gold medals Sunday at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.

The 20-year-old Guelph native and Brock University rower won a gold in the men’s single to kick off the races at the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course before teaming with Alessio Perco to capture the men’s lightweight double about three hours later. 

“It was great,” Harris said. “The first race today I got out in front and tried to control the race and save as much energy as possible. In this one (final race) it was just throw everything I can at it.”

Harris, who teamed with Perco Saturday to earn gold in the men’s quad, loved the atmosphere at the Games.

“It was great. I just recently came back from the Under-23 World Championships and it was such a fun experience there, but to come back here, it’s a lot less stress. It’s more fun because at the end of the day we're here to celebrate sports.”

He also appreciated participating at his home away from home.

“I spend most of the year here training so I know this course very well.”

Ontario once again dominated the races, winning five more golds after earning six Saturday. 

Cait Whittard and Anna Pamenter earned a gold for Team Ontario in the women’s double when they rallied to overtake Team Quebec. 

“It was a good race,” said Whittard, a 17-year-old graduate of Denis Morris. “It was a battle all the way to the end. We were behind for the majority of the race. We just trusted each other. We’ve been working together all summer and she’s been living with me since April and last spring so we knew we would be there for each other.”

Whittard admitted coming from behind was not in the game plan.

“They can see every move we make and can respond so it’s really tough to come back because we can’t see when they’re moving on us but they can see when we pick it up.”

Whittard, Pamenter, Fiona Elliott and Madeson Scott earned gold Saturday in the women’s quad.

Team British Columbia earned gold in the women’s four, outracing the Team Ontario crew of Maya Meschkuleit, Ceilidh MacDonald, Malarie Jones and Hailey Mercuri.

The Team Ontario men’s four of Niko Schramm, Michael Ciepiela, Payton Gauthier and Aidan Hembruff earned gold, holding off Team Alberta for the win.

“The race was incredible,” said Schramm, a 20-year-old Niagara Falls native currently rowing with the University of British Columbia. “We had a lot of good momentum coming into this race. We had a pretty successful race yesterday in the men’s eight so we were feeling pretty confident. Of course, you can never totally be sure of the other boats. We had a lot of good chemistry and we had a great race.”

Schramm loved that the Games were in his backyard.

“It was great,” he smiled. “I had my whole family in the stands. It really means a lot to be able to race in my hometown.”

Schramm is also affiliated with the St. Catharines Rowing Club where he was part of the first-place senior men’s lightweight four earlier this month at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. In 2019, while at Ridley College, he was also part of that school’s first-place U19 men's eight team at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. At UBC, he was named varsity men’s rowing’s rookie of the year in 2021, after his lightweight men’s double team placed third at the Canadian University Rowing Championships.

In the men’s double, the Team BC crew of Gunnar Platt and Quinn Storey earned gold ahead of Team Ontario’s Owen Bartel and Lucas Maroney.

Team Ontario women’s eight of Georgia Greenwood, Teagan Orth, Maya Meschkuleit, Hailey Mercuri, Fiona Elliott, Malarie Jones, Stella Bittman, Zoe Durcak and Ceilidh MacDonald edged out team BC for the gold in the final women’s race of the Games. 

“It’s truly amazing. We’ve worked so hard and it’s so nice to see this hard work pay off,” Jones said. “We came in hungry for it, that’s for sure. We knew we wanted it. The eight was incredible to win because we were able to get together as a team and do it for each other.”

Jones is a 16-year-old E.L. Crossley student from Wainfleet who rows under the Notre Dame Rowing Club banner. She recently earned the top spot in the senior women’s category of the Ontario Ergometer Championships in 2022. Prior to that, her quad won first in Welland at the Head of the Welland, and her eight won first at the Head of the Trent, both in 2021. At the 2022 under-19 worlds, she placed 10th in the women’s four.

Jones enjoyed her Games experience, which included a dip into the water to celebrate.

“It was really fun to get together as a team and to hang out with everybody at home. It was really nice,” she said.

Jones also earned a silver in the women’s four earlier in the day along with Maya Meschkuleit, Ceilidh MacDonald and Hailey Mercuri.

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