RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — Western Washington University’s varsity four won and the varsity eight placed second in two six-boat grand finals Sunday at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships held at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma.
WWU took the four race by 6.29 seconds over runner-up Humboldt State with a time of 7:47.03 over the 2,000-meter course. The Vikings’ eight finished second, 6.64 seconds behind Humboldt State, which had a 6:52.90 clocking.
“They had a really good performance,” said WWU head coach John Fuchs (16th year) of the four which led wire-to-wire. “They didn’t back down one inch.”
“Our hats are off to the Humboldt State eight. They had a good race and we did not put up the fight that we needed to put up. We had opportunities, but just did not get it done.”
WWU’s four won gold for the third time in four years at the WIRA regatta, while the eight had a three-year grand final winning streak snapped. Both boats did not compete at the 2010 meet after each placed first in 2009.
“Anybody would be happy with a first and a second at this regatta,” Fuchs said. “So from that standpoint we did a really good job, but in regards to the post-season who knows.”
What has Fuchs concerned is what ramifications the eight’s loss to Humboldt State might have on the Vikings earning a berth, be it as the West Region representative or an at-large entry, atthe NCAA II national championships on May 30-June 1 at Indianapolis, Ind.
WWU entered the WIRA regatta ranked No.2 in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/USRowing NCAA Division II Poll and Humboldt State was No.4. Two weeks ago, the Vikings’ eight finished second to NCAA I Portland at the Covered Bridge Regatta, but crossed the finish line over five seconds ahead of fourth-place Humboldt State.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors for sure,” said Fuchs of the eight’s WIRA finish. “We could have sealed the deal and got us in by winning that event … We’re not going to see them (Humboldt State) again, but I feel confident that we’re going to have a good second half of the season. Our four did really well and that was good for us. We’re definitely better than we raced in the varsity eight today.”
WWU has been the West Region representative at nationals for the last 10 years and 11 of 12 seasons overall, being an at-large entry the other year. The Vikings won seven straight national titles from 2005 to 2011, a record for all NCAA rowing divisions.
WWU’s eight had a different lineup for the first time this season as Lauren Ramstead (So., Everson/Nooksack Valley), who normally occupies the No.6 seat, was out with a back injury. She is expected to return this week.
Seated in WWU’s eight were coxswain Maeghan Callegari (Jr., Kirkland/Lake Washington), stroke Catrina Cuadra (Sr., Lake Stevens), No.7 Regan Wessman (Sr., Kirkland/Lake Washington), No.6 Olivia Rowland (Sr., Seattle/Holy Names), No.5 Megan Marler (So., Morrison, CO/D’Evelyn), No.4 Katya Hewitt (So., Bellingham), No.3 Christine Henie (Sr., Chugiak, AK), No.2 Emily Bartlett (Fr., Broadlands, VA/Thomas Jefferson S&T), and bow Emily Little (So., Port Angeles/Peninsula CC).
In the Vikings’ four were coxswain Kate Nelson (Jr.., Moscow, ID), stroke Audra Massey (Jr., Albuquerque, NM), No.3 Jenny Chang (Fr., Sammamish/Int. School of Beijing), No.2 Cosette Still (Sr., Lake Forest Park/Blanchet), and bow Olivia Gangmark-Strickland (So., Bainbridge Island).
WWU competes Saturday at the Windemere Cup Regatta on Seattle’s Montlake Cut.
“We’ve got the Huskies coming up and we’ll have our hands full,” said Fuchs. “There’s going to be some fast boats there.”