Three-peat for Western at NCAA II National Championships
May 27, 2007
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - Western Washington University became the first school in any division to win three straight NCAA national rowing titles as it took top honors at the sixth annual NCAA Division II Women's Rowing National Championships that ended Sunday on Melton Hill Lake.
The nationally No.1-ranked Vikings led from start to finish in winning both the four and eight grand finals, each for the third straight year, to claim the national title. It is the first time that a school has won three consecutive titles since the NCAA began a rowing championship in 1997.
"These kids are just amazing," said Western coach John Fuchs. "With everybody coming up in the field, they just seem to find a little bit more. They seem to find what it takes to be the best.
"It's unreal. You don't win three national championships in a row. Maybe three in a program over a number of the years, but when you go out and win three in a row, it's unbelievable ... I mean talk about an experience that they'll never forget. They'll remember this for the rest of their lives. That's what so cool about it."
Western finished with a perfect score of 20 points to 15 for runner-up UC San Diego.
The Vikings' eight, ranked No.1 in the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA II Poll the entire season, won by nearly two boat lengths, navigating the 2,000-meter course in 7:03.80. They were followed by UC San Diego 7:09.51, Dowling NY 7:12.93 and Nova Southeastern FL 7:28.30.
"With so much experience in that boat, the eight was very calm," Fuchs said. "We had four first-time rowers in that boat, but for the other five - this was their third national championship. They really have set the tone about what it's about and provided great leadership. When you've got kids who have experienced everything from start to finish and have won, it makes it a lot easier on the new kids."
Western's four also won by nearly two boat lengths with a winning time of 8:08.72. UC San Diego was second in 8:14.71 and Nova Southeastern third in 8:44.83.
"The four had a great start and completely took control," said Fuchs. I'm really proud of them. The time they spent together as a four was longer than in most years. So they had a long time to jell and they got it done."
Seated in the Vikings' eight were coxswain Kristy Theodorson (So., Bothell/Inglemoor), stroke Staci Reynolds (Jr., Vancouver/Columbia River), No.7 Lindsay Mann-King (Sr., Colville), No.6 Meghan Woodman (So., Redmond), No.5 Amelia Whitcomb (Jr., Spokane/Ferris), No.4 Samantha Marikis (Jr., Republic), No.3 Metta Gilbert (Jr., Helena MT), No.2 Audrey Coon (So., Kenai, AK/Kenai Central) and bow Lila Scaife (Jr., Zillah/Big Bend CC).
Western's four lineup included coxswain Robin Fitzpatrick (Jr., Mukilteo/Kamiak), stroke Jordan Tobler (Jr., Langley/South Whidbey), No.3 Gina Auriemma (So., Lake Forest Park/Shorecrest), No.2 Katie Saelens (Jr., Clinton/South Whidbey) and bow Hilary Gastwirth (So., Issaquah/Liberty).
Last week Mann-King and Reynolds were named CRCA All-Americans, Mann-King for the third time, and Coon and Auriemma were CRCA National Scholar-Athletes.
"They knew what they had to do," Fuchs said. "I didn't have to talk them up or give them a rah-rah speech. Last night, I just said to go out there and be yourselves, row like you've been doing all year and it should be good enough. And they trusted that and that's exactly what happened."
The lineups for both boats were solidified early in the season.
"Creating some early chemistry has worked for us in the past," said Fuchs. "The eight lineup was determined very early and we decided in late March what the four would be. It's just one way to do it. I don't know if we'll do that every year, but it worked for us this season."
Both boats were victorious at the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference Championships on Apr. 21, and the eight reached the grand final at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Championships on Apr. 28, placing third in a field in which Western was the only non-Division I school. At the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships on May 12, the Vikings easily took the NCAA II West Regional with wins in both the four and eight races.
It was the fourth national competition for Mann-King, the team captain. Competing for the third year were Gilbert, Marikis, Reynolds, Tobler and Whitcomb, and participating for the second year were Gastwirth and Saelens. Woodman was an alternate in 2006.
On Friday, the Vikings were victorious in both qualifying heats.
This is actually the seventh 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.
Besides winning the last three national titles, Western placed third at nationals in 2004 and was second in 2002 and 2003.
Varsity 8 - coxswain Kristy Theodorson (So., Bothell/Inglemoor), stroke Staci Reynolds (Jr., Vancouver/Columbia River), No.7 Lindsay Mann-King (Sr., Colville), No.6 Meghan Woodman (So., Redmond), No.5 Amelia Whitcomb (Jr., Spokane/Ferris), No.4 Samantha Marikis (Jr., Republic), No.3 Metta Gilbert (Jr., Helena MT), No.2 Audrey Coon (So., Kenai, AK/Kenai Central), bow Lila Scaife (Jr., Zillah/Big Bend CC)
Varsity 4 - coxswain Robin Fitzpatrick (Jr., Mukilteo/Kamiak), stroke Jordan Tobler (Jr., Langley/South Whidbey), No.3 Gina Auriemma (So., Lake Forest Park/Shorecrest), No.2 Katie Saelens (Jr., Clinton/South Whidbey), bow Hilary Gastwirth (So., Issaquah/Liberty)
2007 NCAA Division II Women's Rowing National Championships
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