June 3, 2008
SEATTLE, Wash. -
Proud, regional sports fans almost need a spreadsheet to follow the achievements of outstanding women crews at the NCAA rowing championships. They triumphed at all levels of competition, in one of the most demanding sports in collegiate athletics.
Where to start? With a dynasty; no other word applies.
Western Washington took the team title in the Division II competition for the fourth consecutive year. The rowers from Bellingham won the eights grand final and the fours grand final. Seniors Metta Gilbert, Samantha Marikis, Staci Reynolds and Amelia Whitcomb rowed in the national regatta for each of the Vikings' championships. Coach John Fuchs introduced many of the rowers to the sport in college.
In addition, Gilbert, Reynolds and Whitcomb were awarded All-America honors days before the weekend of racing on Lake Natoma at Gold River, Calif.
The University of Washington Huskies might have surprised themselves on the final day of competition. A victory in the varsity four-with-coxswain combined to boost their team score to a second place overall finish. Coach Bob Ernst had all his crews in the finals. Winning the fours was the Huskies first national title since 2002.
Adding to Pacific Northwest glory, the Washington State University Cougars women rowers finished eighth in the country.
In Division III, the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma continued the honor roll with a tie for third in the team totals.
The agony and ecstasy of rowing at the top competitive levels is likely to continue for a few of these athletes after their college careers. Or so one would surmise from the presence of so many regional alums competing for the United States at the 2008 Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland.