Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Bruce Warren

Matthew Toles earns berth at National Rowing Competition


Photo by Debbie Pentz Zander Maitland (left) and Matthew Toles qualified for crew Nationals in doubles.

Matthew Toles, who will be a senior at Niwot High School next fall, has qualified to participate in the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships June 10 - 12 in New Jersey. Toles is one of three members of the Colorado Junior Crew who will compete at Mercer Lake Marina near Princeton University.

This is the first time in team history that Colorado Junior Crew has qualified boats to row in the US Rowing Youth National Championships. Toles and his partner, Zander Maitland of Fairview High School will compete in doubles, while Saylor Strugar of Fairview will compete in singles against rowers representing more than 200 junior rowing teams from across the United States. Toles is coached by Marika Page, while Tyler Romero is the “sweep” coach.

Rowers in singles and doubles have two oars in the water, which is referred to as sculling. The four and eight-member crews each have one oar in the water, which is referred to as sweet rowing.

Toles, who is also a varsity wrestler at Niwot, competing at 113 pounds last season, started his crew career in eighth grade. “My cousin got into it, and that sparked my interest,” Toles said. Toles describes rowing as very much a team sport. “The boat cannot move unless we all work together,” he said. “We’re a tightly bonded group.”

Toles and Maitland work well together. “Our coach matched us up,” Toles said. “We have really good chemistry together. We’re always in sync with each other.” The course is 2000 meters, or approximately 1.25 miles. “Both oars are in the water at the same time,” Toles said. “There is no rudder on the boat.”

The actual race only takes about seven minutes. “After that you just want to nap,” Toles said. “It’s the equivalent of playing two games of basketball in a row.”

Grace Antonucci, who will also be a senior next fall, is the only other Niwot athlete in the program. Like Toles, she competes in doubles, four and eight. Toles is in the lightweight division, in which the rowers must be under 160 pounds. He also occupies the bow seat, which controls the pace of rowing. “I’ve always been in the bow seat,” he said. “Coach saw a lot of technique.”

Only 26 boats qualify to compete at nationals. Toles and Maitland won the regionals in Park City, Utah three weeks ago by taking first place. Their time and finish gave them a berth at nationals, which is determined by U.S. Rowing. “It’ll be a new experience for both my partner and me,” Toles said.

Colorado Junior Crew consists of approximately 60 athletes from the Boulder Valley, Jefferson County and St. Vrain Valley school districts. They practice six days a week at Boulder Reservoir, taking Sundays off. The club trains athletes ages 13-18 year-round in both sculling and sweep rowing., CJC is the largest youth rowing program in Colorado, and offers Learn-to-Row summer programs as well as training for experienced junior rowers throughout the summer at Boulder Reservoir.


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