Threepeat! Bronchos Win Third-Straight National Title
The Bronchos' Varsity 4+ opened a boat-length lead over the first 500 meters and rolled to a 24-second victory in a time of 7:42.6. Photo courtesy of the NCAA.
The Bronchos' Varsity 4+ opened a boat-length lead over the first 500 meters and rolled to a 24-second victory in a time of 7:42.6. Photo courtesy of the NCAA.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

SARASOTA, Fla. – The threepeat is complete and it wasn’t even close.

Central Oklahoma rowed a pair of dominant races to win both the Varsity 4+ and Varsity 8+ grand finals as the Bronchos won their third consecutive women’s rowing national championship on Sunday at the NCAA Division II Rowing Championships at Nathan Benderson Park. By winning both races, the Bronchos compiled the maximum 30 points possible in the team competition.

The Bronchos’ Varsity 4+ opened up more than a boat-length lead in the first 500 meters and never let up, winning the grand final in a time of 7:42.6. The crew was 24 seconds better than second-place Mercyhurst (8:06.2) and 31 seconds better than third-place Florida Tech (8:13.9).

The Central Oklahoma Varsity 8+ never trailed and steadily increased its lead over the 2,000 meters to win in a time of 6:39.7. The Bronchos posted a 14-second victory over Mercyhurst (6:53.1) and a 20-second win over Florida Tech (6:59.2).

"All the hard work paid off," UCO head rowing coach Brian Ebke said to "All the practices, all the training, everything. These girls have worked so hard, and some of them for the last two years just for this moment. I'm proud of them. I'm proud of the girls in the boats but for everyone in the program that played a part. It takes a team effort and I'm just so happy to see the reward."

It is the second straight nationals regatta (2019 and 2021) that the Bronchos have swept the gold medals in the grand finals and it is the third straight national title for the Varsity 8+. As a team, Central Oklahoma has finished either first or second in the last five national championships.

The Varsity 4+ opened the day and wasted little time in taking a boat-length lead within the first 500 meters of the race. The Bronchos opened up a five-second lead at 500 meters and an 11-second lead at the halfway mark. At that point, the battle was for second and third with UCO cruising over the second half of the race to easily take the victory.

The Varsity 4+ crew included coxswain Yesenia Cox-Salazar and rowers Sage Kroeker (bow), Danielle Dick, Allison Staley and Kelsey Woellmer.

While not as dominant as they were in Friday’s preliminaries, the UCO Varsity 8+ was a force from start to finish. The Bronchos had a five-second lead at the 500-meter mark and extended the lead to eight seconds at 1,000 meters. After rowing 1:40.4 over the second 500 meters, the Bronchos was consistent on the next two 500-meter segments, clocking 1:41.8 to 1,500 meters and 1:39.7 to the finish.

The Varsity 8+ crew included coxswain Madisyn Kitchell and rowers Kateryna Klymenko (bow), Megan Dwarshuis, Shelby Wackerly, Cameron Blunk, Hope Brooks, Faith Brooks, Keyna Holleman and Siobhan Quirke.

This is the second year that the GNAC has sponsored women’s rowing as a championship sport and the first time that the conference has been represented at nationals after the 2020 regatta was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 20 years that women’s rowing has been a Division II championship sport, GNAC member teams have won 13 national championships (Western Washington with eight, Central Oklahoma with three, Humboldt State with two) and had eight runner-up finishes.

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