Western seeks first NCAA II title
May 24, 2004
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - As Western Washington University enters its third consecutive NCAA Division II National Women's Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma at Sacramento this weekend, the most experienced Viking won't be one pulling an oar.
Senior coxswain Emily Davis (Carnation/Mount Si) is the lone Viking to be in the varsity eight for all three of those competitions. She'll be shouting the commands and stroke rates as Western, the top-ranked eight in the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA II Poll, seeks its first NCAA II championship in any sport when the three-day regatta begins Friday.
Davis once thought she'd be pulling oars, but she quickly figured out that wasn't the case.
"I went into the first meeting thinking, 'I can do this,'" said the environmental education major. "When I looked around the room, I knew I wasn't going to make it rowing, so I tried being a coxswain. I knew my personality fit being a coxswain anyway."
The 5-foot-3 Davis was an alternate when the Vikings went to the National Collegiate Rowing Championships in 2001, then directed the varsity eight in the first NCAA II Championships in 2002 and again last year.
"A coxswain has to have a bit of savvy, an ability to make quick decisions with grace under pressure," said Western coach John Fuchs. "They also have to be fiercely competitive, yet still able to take criticism with a grain of salt, because a lot of the feedback on performance is directed at the cox."
Davis has excelled at the role, earning CRCA NCAA II All-America honors in 2003 and again this season. Senior stroke Julia Gamache (Seattle/Blanchet) was also an All-American this year.
The Vikings have twice finished second in the national championships, which are a four-school competition with each crew racing an eight and a four. The other schools are Barry, Fla.; Mercyhurst, Pa., and Humboldt State. A new national champion will be crowned this year as UC Davis, which won the first two NCAA II titles, is in the first year of a transition to NCAA I and ineligible to compete for the championship.
"I think we're the best crew, but we still have to have our best performance," said Fuchs. "Anything less than that opens the door for two or three other crews. That's championship rowing, you have to be at your best."
For Davis, a national championship would be the culmination of four great years.
"We feel like this is our year," she said. "We're a lot calmer, more focused, more fit athletically. It would be like a dream come true. A lot of us feel like it's a fitting finale for four years of hard work."
Seated in Western's varsity eight with Davis and Gamache are No.7 Brittany Kruger (Sr., Longview/Mark Morris), No.6 Kailyn McGrath (Jr., Fillmore, CA/Villanova Prep), No.5 Gail Lumsden (Jr., Everett/Mariner), No.4 Lindsay Mann-King (Fr., Colville/Seattle U.), No.3 Stephanie Parker (Fr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck/Seattle Pacific), No.2 Sarah Rule (Jr., Mercer Island/UConn) and bow Laurel Kaminski (Sr., Bellevue/Newport).
In the Vikings' varsity four are coxswain Krissy Whaley (Jr., Woodinville), stroke Courtney Moeller (Jr., Renton/Liberty), No.3 Katrina Anderson (So., Anchorage, AK/West Anchorage), No.2 Jenn McGrath (So., Enumclaw) and bow Sarah Forney (So., Monroe).
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