WWU has mix of young and old at NCAA II Nationals
May 23, 2012
WEST WINDSOR, New Jersey - If Western Washington University is to win an eighth straight NCAA Division II national championship in women's rowing, it will do so with sharply contrasting experience levels in its eight and four shells.
The Vikings, ranked No.1 nationally in the latest Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Poll, begin their quest Friday with both boats competing in heats on Lake Mercer.
The eight goes at 11:15 ET against Nova Southeastern FL and Central Oklahoma. That is followed by a heat involving Humboldt State CA, Mercyhurst PA and Barry FL at 12 noon ET.
Following those races are the four heats, WWU facing Humboldt State at 12:30 p.m. ET after Mercyhurst and Nova Southeastern meet at 12:15 p.m. ET.
The heat winners advance to grand finals Sunday, while the others compete in repechage heats Saturday.
Five Viking rowers, each of them making their fourth national appearances, anchor the eight. They are stroke Jean Piette (Sr., Vancouver/Columbia River), team captain and No. 7 Megan Northey (Sr., Brier/King's), No.6 Katie Woolsey (Sr., North Bend/Mount Si), No.5 Kate Berni (Sr., Silverdale/Central Kitsap), and bow Carson MacPherson-Krutsky (Sr., Seattle/Garfield).
No.3 Stephanie Bluhm (Jr., Auburn/Mountain View) and No.2 Kelsey Baker (Sr., Gig Harbor) are both at nationals for the third time, and it is the second trip for No.4 Alyssa Dewey (Sr., Bend/Mountain View). Alix Crilly (Sr., Wenatchee), who has been a part of the program for four years, is seeing her first national competition as coxswain of the eight.
Piette and Northey were recently named to the CRCA Pocock Division II All-America team.
While the eight totals 20 years of national experience for head coach John Fuchs (14th year), all the rowers in WWU's varsity four are competing for the first time. In that shell are coxswain Maeghan Callegeri (Fr., Kirkland/Lake Washington), stroke Christine Henie (So., Chugiak, AK), No.3 Olivia Rowland (So., Seattle/Holy Names), No.2 Regan Wessman (So., Kirkland/Lake Washington) and bow Claire Marine (So., Enumclaw).
Henie, Marine, Rowland, and Wessman were in WWU's second eight most of the spring, helping that shell place first at the NCRC Championships and WIRA Regatta.
The alternates are Hannah Gallagher (Sr., Seattle/Garfield) and Lauren Fleming (Sr., Bainbridge Island), who were seated in the varsity four at nationals in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Gallagher is making her second trip as an alternate and third overall, and it is Fleming's first trip as an alternate and second overall.
The Vikings are representing the West Region for the ninth straight year and for the 10th time in 11 seasons (at-large entry in 2003). Last year, they won a seventh straight national title, the longest string in any NCAA rowing division.
WWU is one of four schools competing for the team championship - each school being required to row an eight and a four. Besides the Vikings, they are Mercyhurst from the East Region, Nova Southeastern from the South Region, and at-large entry Humboldt State from the West Region.
WWU received three of five first-place votes in being ranked No.1 nationally in the last poll on May 16, Humboldt State, which had earned the top rating in the two previous polls, was second with one first-place vote. No.3 Nova Southeastern also got one first-place vote and Mercyhurst was No.4. Mercyhurst won the national team championship in 2004, the last crown prior to WWU's string, and was second last year.
WWU's eight won by one-half boat length over Humboldt State at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta, with the Lumberjacks edging the Vikings by nearly that same margin at the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference Championships.
In addition, Barry and Central Oklahoma received at-large berths in the eight competition. Those schools are not eligible for the team title.
At nationals last year, WWU won both the four and eight competition. The Vikings have won the four and eight titles for six of the last seven years, placing second in the eight grand final in 2010 and being runner-up in the four grand final in 2009.
At nationals, participants receive 12 points for the first-place eight, nine for second, six for third and three for fourth. The victorious four gets eight points, with six points awarded for second, four for third and two for fourth.
Overall, this is the 12th consecutive trip to nationals for Western. The Vikings competed in the NCAA championship for all divisions in 2001, the varsity eight finishing sixth in its qualifying, repechage and third final races. In 2002, each school raced two eights at nationals.
WWU's seven straight titles is tied for fourth among all women's sports in Division II and an eighth would put it in a three-way tie for second, with none of those strings and the record of 10 by Cal Poly SLO in cross country being current.
The Vikings have the third longest active string among all divisions in any sport, trailing Methodist's 14 II/III women's golf titles from 1998 to 2011, and Drury's eight men's swimming and diving crowns.
Varsity 8 - Coxswain Alix Crilly (Sr., Wenatchee), stroke Jean Piette (Sr., Vancouver/Columbia River), No. 7 Megan Northey (Sr., Brier/King's), No.6 Katie Woolsey (Sr., North Bend/Mount Si), No.5 Kate Berni (Sr., Silverdale/Central Kitsap), No.4 Alyssa Dewey (Sr., Bend/Mountain View), No.3 Stephanie Bluhm (Jr., Auburn/Mountain View), No.2 Kelsey Baker (Sr., Gig Harbor), bow Carson MacPherson-Krutsky (Sr., Seattle/Garfield)
Varsity 4 - Coxswain Maeghan Callegeri (Fr., Kirkland/Lake Washington), stroke Christine Henie (So., Chugiak, AK), No.3 Olivia Rowland (So., Seattle/Holy Names), No.2 Regan Wessman (So., Kirkland/Lake Washington), bow Claire Marine (So., Enumclaw)
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