Vikings make it four-for-four!
June 1, 2008
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - Western Washington University made it four-for-four at the seventh annual NCAA Division II National Women's Rowing Championships on Sunday morning, winning an unprecedented fourth straight national title at the Sacramento Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma.
The Vikings were led by a core group of four seniors - Metta Gilbert (Helena, MT), Samantha Marikis (Republic), Staci Reynolds (Vancouver/Columbia River) and Amelia Whitcomb (Spokane/Ferris) - who rowed in the national regatta for each of the championships.
Western led from start to finish in winning both the four and eight grand finals, each for the fourth straight year, to claim the national title. No team in any division had won three straight championships prior to the Vikings performing that feat last season.
Photo by Angie Rosillo
"It's pretty impressive to accomplish what they've accomplished this year and for those seniors to finish out their careers like that, I can't even fathom what they're feeling right now," said Western coach John Fuchs (10th year). "They're the perfect example of what a student-athlete is. They represent all that is great about it."
Western finished with a perfect score of 20 points to 15 for UC San Diego, which was the runner-up for the second straight year. The Vikings were ranked No.1 in the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA II Poll all season long, receiving every first-place vote.
"All of them (national titles) were different," Fuchs said. "I think just the fact that the seniors started this whole thing when they were freshmen, they won the first one, and for them to finish off their careers by winning the fourth one and not having a lot of overlap ... It was like the circle was completed."
The Vikings' eight won by almost three boat lengths, finishing the 2,000-meter course in 6:53.20. They were followed by UC San Diego in 7:06.68, Dowling NY in 7:10.19 and Philadelphia PA in 7:21.24.
"They executed the race plan which was to have a good start and then just execute stroke after stroke, try and take a little bit more, and keep pushing and pushing," said Fuchs. "They didn't let up and pushed all the way down the course."
Western's four was victorious by almost three boat lengths with a winning time of 7:57.54. UC San Diego was second in 8:10.95 with Nova Southeastern third in 8:25.10.
"The four was the same plan (as the eight)," Fuchs said. "They got off the line quick, didn't make any mistakes and just went to work and out-rowed everybody."
Seated in Western's eight were coxswain Kristy Theodorson (Jr., Bothell/Inglemoor), stroke Reynolds, No.7 Gilbert, No.6 Meghan Woodman (Jr., Redmond), No.5 Gina Auriemma (Jr., Lake Forest Park/Shorecrest), No.4 Marikis, No.3 Whitcomb, No.2 Audrey Coon (Jr., Kenai, AK/Kenai Central) and bow Madeleine Eckmann (So., Winthrop/Liberty Bell).
Gilbert, Marikis and Reynolds were named CRCA All-Americans last week, Reynolds for the second time.
Seated in the Vikings' four were coxswain Samantha Oberholzer (Fr., Bellevue), stroke Katie Tipton (Fr., Snohomish), No.3 Casey Mapes (Fr., Anchorage, AK/Service), No.2 Julia Munger (Jr., Palmer, AK/Colony) and bow Hilary Gastwirth (Jr., Issaquah/Liberty).
"This is the fastest," Fuchs said of his eight. "I think both of them (eight and four) are actually the fastest. With the depth we had I think this is the best squad we've had."
"It was just a fun year watching them win like that. They're just amazing athletes."
Western's eight finished with eight wins in 11 races this season, its only losses being against Division I competition. The Vikings, who already had won the unofficial NCAA II West Regional and Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference titles, have not lost to a NCAA II school in either eight or four competition since 2004.
Besides being the fourth national title for Gilbert, Marikis, Reynolds and Whitcomb, it was the third for Gastwirth and the second for Auriemma, Coon, Theodorson and Woodman.
This is actually the eighth consecutive national appearance 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 four national titles, Western placed third in 2004 after being second the previous two years.
2008 NCAA Division II Women's Rowing National Championships
Grand Final - Eights
1. Western Washington 6:53.20, 2. UC San Diego 7:06.68, 3. Dowling 7:10.19, 4. Philadelphia 7:21.24
Grand Final - Fours
1. Western Washington 7:57.54, 2. UC San Diego 8:10.95, 3. Nova Southeastern 8:25.10
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