March 28, 2014
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
It's a string unmatched by any other Western Washington University sport. There have been 12 NCAA Division II Women's Rowing National Championships, and the Vikings have qualified for every single one.
Thus the goal of getting to nationals remains a very attainable one for an experienced crew that returns four rowers and the coxswain in the varsity eight, as well as seven others with national experience for a program that won an NCAA record seven consecutive national championships from 2005 to 2011.
Head coach John Fuchs (16th year) is pleased with what he's seen in pre-season training.
"I'm excited about this group," said Fuchs. "They have really good chemistry, the team has good attitudes and is having fun. Our training has been really good even though we've had some bad weather this winter."
Returning in the varsity 8 are No. 7 Regan Wessman (Sr., Kirkland/Lake Washington), No. 6 Lauren Ramstead (Jr., Everson/Nooksack Valley), No. 4 Olivia Rowland (Sr., Seattle/Holy Names), No.3 and team captain Christine Henie (Sr., Chugiak, AK), and coxswain Maeghan Callegari (Jr., Kirkland/Lake Washington). Wessman, Henie, Callegari are all two-time national championship participants.
They'll be joined by stroke Catrina Cuadra (Sr., Lake Stevens), who was in the four at nationals last year, as well as bow Emily Little (So, Port Angeles/Peninsula CC) and No. 5 Megan Marler (So., Morrison, CO/D'Evelyn), who were both national alternates in 2013. Completing the varsity eight is freshman Emily Bartlett (Broadlands, VA/Thomas Jefferson S&T).
Back in the varsity four are coxswain Kate Nelson (Jr., Moscow, ID), Audra Massey (Jr., Albuquerque, NM), and Sara Crowell (Jr., Bainbridge Island/Bainbridge). Fuchs said the Vikings will row the fours earlier than in some past years because of NCAA guidelines requiring a minimum of five events in the four.
There's also additional experience presently in the second eight. Coxswain Katey Sullivan (Jr., Valley Center, CA), returns as do Cosette Still (Sr., Lake Forest Park/Blanchet) and Olivia Gangmark-Strickland (So., Bainbridge).
"We had good fitness and strength training when we haven't been able to get on the water this winter," Fuchs said. "Now we just need to go up against someone else. I'm excited to watch them race."
The Vikings open the official season Saturday at the Daffodil Cup in Tacoma. Much of the schedule is similar to past years, with one new addition, as WWU travels to Oklahoma on May 17 to compete with Central Oklahoma and Seattle Pacific in the final event of the season prior to the national championships at Indianapolis on May 30-June 1.
"We felt like we missed a step having four weeks off prior to nationals last year," Fuchs said. "This provides us with good preparation for nationals, or it might also help with an at-large berth if we're not in the driver's seat for the West Region."