Western wins sixth straight NCAA II national team title
May 30, 2010
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - The formula was not the expected one, but the result was still the same.
Western Washington University won its sixth straight national team title Sunday at the ninth annual NCAA Division II Women's Rowing National Championships held on Lake Natoma at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.
It is the first time that a school in any NCAA rowing division has claimed six straight crowns since the NCAA began a rowing championship in 1997.
"It was a great year," said Western coach John Fuchs (12th year). "What an awesome team. They had great chemistry. They're nice kids and good students and they worked well with each other. It was really a fun year, a fun group to coach for sure."
For the first time in its championship run, Western did not win the varsity eight, finishing four seats behind Mercyhurst PA. But that result, combined with an impressive five boat-length victory by the four, was enough for another championship.
"It was a helluva race," Fuchs said. "Hats off to Mercyhurst, they've got a good crew and are well coached. It was a great race. Our kids didn't leave anything out there. It was close the whole way with some good times."
The Vikings' four dominated, completing the 2,000-meter course in 7:25.35, over 18 seconds better than second-place Florida Tech (7:43.84) with Philadelphia third (7:56.92).
"They had probably their best race of the year, and it's always good to do that on a day like today," said Fuchs. "The field wasn't that strong, but our kids had a great run. I think that's the best time or pretty close to the best time we've ever posted down here."
Mercyhurst led throughout the eight race, edging Western, ranked No.1 in the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA II Poll, by 2.39 seconds. Mercyhurst, which placed second last year after entering the final rated No.1, won the 2004 national title, the last time the Vikings lost to a Division II opponent in the varsity eight, when they placed third.
"Mercyhurst was a little faster today," Fuchs said. "They earned the right to say that they're the best eight out there."
Western took the team championship with 20 points, followed by Seattle Pacific 11, Philadelphia 10 and Florida Tech 9. Mercyhurst was not eligible because the Lakers only got an at-large bid for their varsity eight.
Both Viking shells rowed to easy victories in their qualifying heats Friday.
Last year, Western won the eight grand final, but its four placed second. Both the four and eight were victorious in the school's first four title-winning seasons.
In the Vikings' eight were coxswain Samantha Oberholzer (Jr., Bellevue), stroke Megan Northey (So., Brier/King's), No.7 Katie Woolsey (So., North Bend/Mount Si), No.6 Heather Kelly (Sr., Bird Creek, AK/South Anchorage), No.5 Jean Piette (So., Vancouver/Columbia River), No.4 Siri Carlson (Jr., Tacoma/Franklin Pierce), No.3 Casey Mapes (Jr., Anchorage, AK/Service), No.2 Kate Berni (So., Silverdale/Central Kitsap) and bow Madeleine Eckmann (Sr., Winthrop/Liberty Bell).
Seated in Western's four were coxswain Kelsey McFarland (Jr., Fife), stroke Carson MacPherson-Krutsky (So., Seattle/Garfield), No.3 Hannah Gallagher (So., Seattle/Garfield). No.2 Stephanie Bluhm (Fr., Auburn/Mountainview) and bow Kelsey Baker (So., Gig Harbor).
Kelly was named at CRCA All-American last week and Eckmann is the team captain. Eckmann, MacPherson-Krutsky, Mapes, and Northey were CRCA National Scholar-Athletes.
Baker, Bluhm and McFarland were the only Vikings making their first national appearance. It was the fourth trip to nationals for Eckmann, who was an alternate in 2007, and the third trip for Kelly, who was an alternate in 2008, Mapes and Oberholzer. Making their second straight junkets were Berni, Carlson, Gallagher, MacPherson-Krutsky, Northey, Piette and Woolsey.
This was actually the 10th 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 five national titles, Western placed third in 2004 after being second in 2002 and 2003.
2010 NCAA Division II Women's Rowing National Championships
Varsity 8 - coxswain Samantha Oberholzer (Jr., Bellevue), stroke Megan Northey (So., Brier/King's), No.7 Katie Woolsey (So., North Bend/Mount Si), No.6 Heather Kelly (Sr., Bird Creek, AK/South Anchorage), No.5 Jean Piette (So., Vancouver/Columbia River), No.4 Siri Carlson (Jr., Tacoma/Franklin Pierce), No.3 stroke Casey Mapes (Jr., Anchorage, AK/Service), No.2 Kate Berni (So., Silverdale/Central Kitsap) and bow Madeleine Eckmann (Sr., Winthrop/Liberty Bell)
Varsity 4 - coxswain Kelsey McFarland (Jr., Fife), stroke Carson MacPherson-Krutsky (So., Seattle/Garfield), No.3 Kelsey Baker (So., Gig Harbor), No.2 Stephanie Bluhm (Fr., Auburn/Mountainview) and bow Hannah Gallagher (So., Seattle/Garfield)
Western Washington Completes Six-Peat The Vikings finished their sixth straight national championship run.
By James Raia, Special to NCAA.com
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - Western Washington continues to rule NCAA Division II women's rowing.
The Vikings won their sixth straight Division II team title on Sunday-the longest reign in NCAA rowing-on the final day of championship competition at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.
But it wasn't a perfect finish. After Western Washington varsity fours won, Mercyhurst led from start to finish and pulled off the upset of the three-day regatta on Lake Natoma, beating the Vikings in the four-boat varsity eights final by 2 1/2 seconds.
"They have a dominant program, but I felt bad for them in a sense that everyone was rooting for us," said Mercyhurst coach Adrian Spracklen. "We didn't have a four (boat), so it was like a card game for us. We had to go all in. There was no conservative for us. It was either win or that's it."
With Mercyhurst in the lead by six seats, Western Washington made its move with a "power-10." The Vikings gained about two seats on Mercyhurst, but the Lakers responded and were never seriously challenged in the final 750 meters. Mercyhurst was victorious in 6 minutes, 42.53 seconds.
"For us, it was more just put it out there," said Spracklen. "They (Western Washington) always have a plan. They stick to it and they are consistent. So what we wanted to do was not lose time in the second 500 (meters) like we've done. So our goal was to be consistent. We have a lot of confidence in our third 500."
The Vikings, who posted the fastest qualifying by nearly five seconds in Friday's automatic finals qualifier, finished second in 6:44.92. Barry was third (6:51.76) and Seattle Pacific was fourth (6:53.04). With its first and second place finishers, Western Washington has now won 22 of 25 NCAA events since its dominance began in 2004.
In the varsity fours grand final, Western Washington dominated the three-boat grand final, winning by more than 100 meters in 7:25.35. Florida Tech (7:43.84) was second and Philadelphia University (7:56.92).
In day's only other Division II race, Philadelphia University rowed an open water victory over Florida Tech in the two-boat varsity eights petite final in 6:55.06. The Panthers finished in 7:02.52
Western Washington claimed the team title with 20 points, followed by Seattle Pacific (11), Philadelphia (10) and Florida Tech (9). Mercyhurst only had a varsity eights boat and was not in the team competition.
Seattle Pacific's runner-up team finish was impressive, since the school had never competed as a team in the NCAA tourney. The Falcons had only 11 rowers, one less than the minimum team requirement, but gained two walk-on rowers in February.
Western Washington Vikings Sidebar Links
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|