Meeting GNAC Women's Rowing Again For The First Time
The Central Oklahoma varsity eight was named the GNAC Crew of the Week for its two close victories over Seattle Pacific at the Falcon Regatta.
The Central Oklahoma varsity eight was named the GNAC Crew of the Week for its two close victories over Seattle Pacific at the Falcon Regatta.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – We would like to introduce you to GNAC women’s rowing…again.

After women’s rowing was added as the GNAC’s 17th championship sport for the 2019-20 season, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the world of sports before the season could hardly begin. Only Seattle Pacific and Western Washington succeeded in competing in spring competitions, both racing at the March 7 PLU Invitational, before the season was canceled.

Since then, the landscape of GNAC women’s rowing has dramatically changed. Affiliate UC San Diego made its move to Division I. Longtime Humboldt State head coach Robin Meiggs retired and was replaced by Matt Weise. Seattle Pacific head coach Andrew Derrick headed across the state of Washington to Gonzaga and was replaced by Caitlin McClain.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the high level of quality of rowing present in the GNAC. All four GNAC teams competed in the 2019 Division II Women’s Rowing Championships. Central Oklahoma enters the season as the two-time defending national champion (2018 and 2019). Western Washington placed third at the 2019 championship and Seattle Pacific placed fourth.

Those three, along with affiliate member Humboldt State, are looking forward to a chance to return to the national regatta, which takes place May 28-30 in Saratoga, Florida.

The pandemic, however, will limit the opportunities that teams have to get on the water. Only six regattas are on the schedule before the four programs come together for the inaugural GNAC Women’s Rowing Championships in May.

FALCON REGATTA: Three of the GNAC’s four teams provided a virtual preview of the GNAC Championships at the Falcon Regatta on March 27 in Seattle.

In the 2,000-meter races along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, it was Central Oklahoma’s day. The Bronchos won four of the six races on the day. In the varsity eights, the Bronchos nosed out host Seattle Pacific. In the first session, UCO crossed the line in 6:53.6 compared to the Falcons’ 6:54.3. The second session was even closer with UCO winning in 6:51 against Seattle Pacific’s 6:51.3.

The two victories earned the UCO varsity eight selection as the GNAC Crew of the Week. Joining senior coxswain Madisyn Kitchell on the crew was senior Cameron Blunk, senior Kateryna Klymenko, senior Megan Dwarshuis, senior Shelby Wackerly, freshman Keyna Holleman, freshman Faith Brooks, junior Sage Kroeker and senior Siobhan Quirke.

Central Oklahoma also won the first session’s novice four race in 7:45 and the second session’s varsity four race in 7:52.4.

"It was just great to be out there," UCO head rowing coach Brian Ebke told the UCO athletics website. "We did well today and we really found out where we are as a team. It's been so long since we got to race against anyone else and to do it here against some good teams, I think we did pretty well."

Seattle Pacific won the regatta’s other two races. In the first session, the Falcons won the varsity four race in a time of 7:50.2. In the second session, SPU won the second varsity eight race in 7:25.4.

"Today's racing was so good. It was great to see the fight and to be neck-and-neck with another crew," said SPU head coach Caitlin McClain on the SPU athletics website. "Every boat on our team was tested today and they kept pushing. Some came out with wins, and some were close losses, but I'm just so proud of the effort and the focus today."

WHAT’S ON TAP: Conference teams will compete in just three regattas during the month of April, the result of a spring schedule truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central Oklahoma will compete in two of those regattas. The Bronchos will compete at Tulsa on April 10 before traveling to Austin, Texas for the Longhorn Invite on April 24.

Western Washington will host Seattle Pacific for the Viking Regatta on Lake Samish, near Bellingham, on April 17. Both the Vikings and Falcons are scheduled to close the regular season by competing in the Windermere Cup on May 1 in Seattle.

Due to roster limitations and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Humboldt State is not expected to compete prior to the GNAC Championships.

The inaugural GNAC Women’s Rowing Championships are scheduled to take place in mid-May. The date and location of the event of the regatta will be announced soon.