Western Washington rowers edge UFV to claim Cascade Cup

The Western Washington and UFV varsity men’s fours dueled for the Cascade Cup on Saturday. (Photo courtesy WWU Rowing)

On a great day of racing in Fort Langley, the Western Washington Vikings edged the University of the Fraser Valley in the varsity men’s four to claim the Cascade Cup for the first time.

The Cascade Cup tradition was inaugurated in 2014 when Western Washington invited UFV’s rowers down to Bellingham for a training camp/race day, and what followed was a day of competitive racing and camaraderie. The competition has continued in the years since, and both sides have thoroughly enjoyed racing each other.

This year, the Cup duel took place on a beautiful sunny Saturday on the Cascades’ home course. UFV has yet to lose the Cup, and they had no intention of letting the trophy out of their hands this year.

There were a variety of races that took place, including junior varsity fours, varsity fours, and junior varsity/novice eights. Although there is more than one race, the Cup goes to the winner of the largest varsity boat category that both teams can field, and this year that was the varsity four.

The first race of the day was the junior varsity four. UFV’s crew, made up of two new rowers, Clayton DeVries and Graeson Lounsbury, and two experienced rowers, Andrew Stahl and Kyle Fischer, rowed their best race yet and finished ahead of WWU by nine seconds. It was a great way to kick off the day of racing, and an important milestone for these promising rowers, who will likely be leading the team in future years.

Next up was the championship varsity four. UFV’s crew consisted of (from stroke) Mitchell Wierks, Stephen Wall, Kyle Krahn, Riley Dueck, and coxswain Genelle Grubb. They were up against two boats from WWU. It was a close race the entire way down the course. However, from the beginning it was WWU that nudged in front of UFV, and they were able to hold off the Cascades for the remaining two kilometres.

“I could hear their seats and their oarlocks in my right ear. We were close, but not close enough to make a move,” said captain and bow seat Riley Dueck.

This bittersweet result was Dueck’s final race for the Cascades.

“The atmosphere at this race is highly competitive and collegial,” he said. “Win or lose, you go home knowing you’ve taken part in something very special. It is extremely tough to give up the trophy, but I’m incredibly content to cap off my career with this great event.”

The final race of the day was the junior varsity and novice eights. In first was WWU’s junior varsity eight, who finished the race with open water on the other two competitors. Following behind was UFV and the second WWU eight. Both were vying for that second place finish. It was tight, but WWU just edged out the UFV boat by a handful of inches.

To finish off the day the Cascade Cup was presented to the WWU varsity four by the UFV four. It was a moment of pure rowing respect and camaraderie. Hilariously, the entire WWU team had dressed in plaid after the racing was over, mimicking what the Cascades crew had done last year after race-day.

Overall, it was a day of mixed results for the Cascades. However, the atmosphere for the athletes was exceptional. It is a rare and unique opportunity to be able to have two strong teams come together in such great camaraderie and high level of competition. It is a tradition UFV Rowing never wants to see stop, and WWU can expect the Cascades to come back even stronger next year.

– by Riley Dueck, UFV Rowing

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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