Under-15 rowers tops at SA Champs

The Jeppe junior rowers had a very good weekend at the SA Schools Rowing Championships at Roodepoort Dam last weekend.

The under-15 age group won the trophy for best club in their category and in the process, they broke the stranglehold that St Benedict’s has held over the team events for many years now, a good sign for the future.

The success of the under-15s, according to Josh Gillespie and Darian Ferreira, is due to their numbers, and the performance of their top crews.

“The way it works,” they explained, “is that you earn a point for every crew that enters, then you get more points for making semi-finals, finals and medalling.”

The new junior boats the school acquired have helped, but Mr Cripwell and the staff have been recruiting rowers all the time and Josh and Darian and the other rowers have been encouraging their friends to join the club.

“We are the biggest group in the club, other than the opens, who consist of two years,” they said. “So there’s competition for the A crews and we have a lot of depth.

There were two Jeppe under-15 quads in the semifinals and one in the final – it won the sliver medal which earned a lot of points and Josh won the bronze in the single sculls. In addition, the double made the semi-final and three single scullers made the semis.

“The motivation of Mr Cripwell has definitely made a difference,” Josh said, “we have a very good training programme and a variety of coaches who have all taught us something new.”

Both Josh and Darian regard rowing as their main sport and they are looking forward to the winter rowing programme which starts up next term. In the mean time they have a break and they will both be playing hockey. “We go into the under-16s now, so I’m not expecting to make a high team, but it’s a lot of fun and it keeps me fit,” Darian said.

Then it will be back to rowing and they are hungry for more success going forward.

The under-14 age group were also exceptional. Mandla Green won the gold medal in the single sculls and the quad also took gold – the first SA titles for Jeppe since 2001.

Mandla’s performance came as a bit of a surprise to him, he said. “I was under pressure to won from everyone who was there,” he said, “but I was beaten in the final at the Gauteng champs, so I wasn’t sure.”

That rower never made the final this time, however, and Mandla won by comfortable margin. He clearly has a bright future in the sport.