INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Western Washington University finished third in the team standings as its varsity eight placed fourth and varsity four third in Sunday grand finals at the 12th annual NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing National Championships held at the Eagle Creek Reservoir.
The Vikings have placed among the top three nationally every year since the regatta began in 2002. They won seven straight national titles from 2004 to 2011, finished second three times and third twice.
Nova Southeastern FL took both the four and eight grand finals to claim the team championship with 20 points. Barry FL was second with 15, followed by the Vikings with 10.
WWU’s eight completed the 2,000-meter course in 6:59.12. NSU won in 6:42.74, over a boat length ahead of Barry (6:48.01), with UC San Diego third (6:54.70). The Vikings’ four was clocked in 7:55.24. NSU won by nearly two boat lengths in 7:43.86 with Barry, which passed WWU in the final 500 meters, second in 7:51.37.
“It just wasn’t a super regatta for us, we just couldn’t get it going,” said WWU head coach John Fuchs (15th year). “But Nova (Southeastern) and Barry had great seasons, they deserved to be first and second.”
“Our rowers gave it their best effort. I was proud of them. I felt that they represented the West Region well.”
NSU dominated the meet, winning all four of its races beginning with two qualifying heats Friday.
Seated in WWU’s eight were coxswain Maeghan Callegari (So., Kirkland/Lake Washington), stroke Stephanie Bluhm (Sr., Auburn/Auburn Mountainview), No.7 Olivia Rowland (Jr., Seattle/Holy Names), No.6 Lauren Ramstead (So., Everson/Nooksack Valley/Creighton), No.5 Olivia Gangmark-Strickland (Fr., Bainbridge), No.4 Maddy Hillier (Sr., Sedro-Woolley (Sedro-Woolley/Skagit Valley CC), No.3 Regan Wessman (Jr., Kirkland/Lake Washington), No.2 Claire Marine (Jr., Enumclaw/Green River), and bow Christine Henie (Jr., Chugiak, AK).
It was the fourth trip to nationals for Bluhm and the second for Callegari, who were both named Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Division II Pocock All-Americans.
The Vikings’ four lineup was coxswain Kate Nelson (So., Moscow, ID), stroke Audra Massey (Jr., Albuquerque, NM), No.3 Catrina Cuadra (Jr., Lake Stevens), No.2 Yvette Kelp (Sr., Lakewood/Gonzaga) and bow Sara Crowell (So., Bainbridge Island/Bainbridge).
WWU entered the competition ranked No.2 in the CRCA Poll with Barry No.1 and NSU No.3.
“To win a championship, things have to go your way and nothing helped us at all,” Fuchs said. “That made it tough.”
“I felt we were on par when we left Bellingham, but it just wasn’t there, it wasn’t in the cards this year.”
The Vikings were representing the West Region for the 10th straight year and for the 11th time in 12 seasons (at-large entry in 2003).