Morgan Wehtje is definitely no cliche
BY RUSTY HAINES
There are many sayings about what you can achieve as you grow older.
Some say that age is just a number, others quote that age has no boundaries or you’re only as old as you feel.
Saying it is simple; it’s the undertaking of action that’s important.
Clichés of age don’t really apply to Morgan Wehtje. The Trent University PhD student and member of the varsity rowing program has never really taken the time to ponder them. To stop and consider age is as against her nature as it would for her to take a break during a race. The perpetual motion of rowing is synonymous with her life, and at 53, she has no thoughts of stopping anytime soon.
As a former competitive rower in her undergrad at both the University of California Santa Barbara and Humboldt State University, Wehtje had always wanted to get back into the sport.
“I always wanted to be in a place where I could row again,” says Wehtje. “That was one of the draws.”
Though specifically coming for the academic purpose of gaining her PhD, Wehtje attests that rowing is a nice side effect of studying at Trent. Formerly a wildlife biologist in California, Wehtje made the move to pursue her PhD in environmental life sciences, studying wild felines in North American, specifically the Lynx and their population dynamics.
Having come to Peterborough in May, Wehtje joined the local rowing club. Peterborough Rowing Club head coach Jacqui Cook, also the head coach of the Trent university program, approached her about competing on the varsity team this season.
American university rules state that an athlete can only compete for four years. In Canada, a university athlete is able to compete for an additional year. As a PhD student, Wehtje was still eligible to compete. Good news for Wehtje and Trent University.
Now fully into the season, Wehtje has found that the transition back to competitive to rowing an easy one. Other than being mistaken for the team’s coach on bus trips, she has found that her age isn’t an issue with any of her fellow rowers. Most knew her from summer training with the rowing club.
“Rowing is very much a team sport,” says Wehtje. ” If you are out of sync then you won’t go fast. You have to foster a harmony with your teammates to make it work.”
Wehtje has rowed as a member of the women’s heavy weight 4s and 8s crews this varsity season and is already making plans for the club season coming up next spring with local rower Nancy Fisher. The two hope to compete in the double sculls masters division.
The Trent rowing program is the gem of the university athletics program; with an indoor rowing tank, its link to the Peterborough Rowing club and elite coaching, it provides one of the best programs available. Trent is one of the National Development Centres for rowing in Canada.
As far as how she has physically adapted, Wehtje makes no complaints. Having always been an active person, the day-to-day training hasn’t played too much havoc on her body.
“The biggest thing is redeveloping the extensive calluses on my hand,” she jokes.
In the meantime, the Trent varsity squad has only a few regattas left until provincial championships. The season lasts until the first weekend of November where a select few who have qualified, will finish up the year at national championships. The championships take place in Welland Ontario on Nov. 5 and 6.