Central Oklahoma Wins First GNAC Women's Rowing Title
Central Oklahoma won both the Varsity 8+ and the Varsity 4+ titles and also collect the first-ever GNAC team title. Photo by Steve Gibbons.
Central Oklahoma won both the Varsity 8+ and the Varsity 4+ titles and also collect the first-ever GNAC team title. Photo by Steve Gibbons.

Saturday, May 15, 2021
by Craig Craker

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The Central Oklahoma women’s rowing team won the Varsity 4+ and Varsity 8+ races Saturday to take home the inaugural GNAC Women’s Rowing Championships title at Vancouver Lake.

The Bronchos are the two-time defending NCAA Division II national champions and they showed why Saturday, dominating the field in both races to easily win the title with 30 points. Seattle Pacific finished second in both races and was second in the team standings with 25 points, while Western Washington was third with 20 points. Humboldt State was forced to scratch out of the Varsity 4+ race because of a damaged boat.

“It was incredibly exciting,” Central Oklahoma coach Brian Ebke said. “The GNAC put on an awesome event. We had so few racing opportunities all year, so it feels really good to come out and be in a championship environment at a great venue against great competition. It is really gratifying.”

The Championships were conducted in tandem with the West Coast Conference and the Portland Vancouver Rowing Association.

In the Varsity 4+ race, Central Oklahoma jumped ahead from the start and then held off a late challenge from Seattle Pacific to win in a time of 7 minutes, 42.95 seconds. The Falcons finished in 7:44.94, while the Vikings were third in 8:21.58.

“I’m so proud of what we did today,” Central Oklahoma captain Megan Dwarshuis said. “I’m so happy with the results. I’m so happy with how internal and focused we were from the first stroke to the last stroke.”

Dwarshuis was on the Varsity 8+ boat that cruised to the victory, controlling the race from the start. With windy and choppy conditions, the Bronchos were rarely challenged and were basically racing against themselves.

Central Oklahoma won in a blistering time of 6:29.85, while the Falcons were second in 6:50.57 and the Vikings third in 7:01.81.

“We are thrilled with the result and the performance and the execution,” Ebke said. “We are excited to continue on for another two weeks and see if we can get faster in Florida.”

The national championship regatta will be May 28-30 in Sarasota, Florida. The selection show for the championships will be Monday, May 17.

Seattle Pacific won an exhibition Open 4+ race in 8:01.44, while Central Oklahoma was second in 8:09.6. Humboldt State didn’t get to compete in the official competition because of the scratch, but was able to race a time trial following the conclusion of the Varsity 8 race.

“The GNAC was more than generous to let them have a race,” Humbold State assistant coach Patrick Hyland said. “To have them time it, post it and list it as a fourth race … that is really putting the athletes first. That was really nice.”

At the end of the day, though, it was Central Oklahoma’s day. And one they weren’t sure they would even have.

“Nobody was expecting a season,” Central Oklahoma senior Kateryna Klymenko said, “but we were pushing every practice and staying positive. I remember the day the GNAC announced the season is actually happening. Practice was really hard that day and everyone PRed.”

May 15, 2021 at Vancouver Lake, Vancouver, Wash.
Team scores: Central Oklahoma 30, Seattle Pacific 25, Western Washington 20, Humboldt State, incomplete

Varsity 8+: 1, Central Oklahoma, 6:29.85; 2, Seattle Pacific, 6:50.57; 3, Western Washington, 7:01.81
Varsity 4+: 1, Central Oklahoma, 7:42.95; 2, Seattle Pacific, 7:44.94; 3, Western Washington, 8:21.58
Open 4+ (exhibition): 1, Seattle Pacific, 8:01.44; 2, Central Oklahoma, 8:09.6

Boat Lineups
Central Oklahoma
Varsity 8+: Madisyn Kitchell (coxswain), Kate Klymenko, Megan Dwarshuis, Shelby Wackerly, Cameron Blunk, Hope Brooks, Faith Brooks, Keyna Holleman, Siobhan Quirke
Varsity 4+: Yesenia Gil Salazar (coxswain), Sage Kroeker, Danielle Dick, Allison Staley, Kelsey Woellmer
Open 4+: Emily Overholt (coxswain), Kenna Chamlee, Keondra Whisenhunt, Danielle Holle, Morgan McBurnett

Humboldt State
Time Trial 4+: Taylor Carrington (coxswain), Kealey Scott, Malia Seeley, Hannah Pereira, Cassidy Hollenbeck

Seattle Pacific
Varsity 8+: LeeAnn Arrington (coxswain), Jennifer Hoag, Samantha Kimmel, Macie Leach, Gillian Edgar, Megan Chalfant, Kaitlin Dickinson, Jacinta Grandel, Suzanne Stafford
Varsity 4+: Roxy Ruther (coxswain), Danielle Johnson, Anna Serven, Natalie Korolenko, Hannah Miller
Open 4+: Cecilia Krause (coxswain), Megan Popielak , Tamyra Clark-Hoogstrate, Elise Arkills, Brooklyn Liberato

Western Washington
Varsity 8+: Adele Houston (coxswain), Jessica Smithlin, Maddie Bangasser, Clarice Ruhlin-Hicks, Haley Moss, Lindsey Froelich, Morgan MacIntyre, Claudia Webster, Brenna Rice
Varsity 4+: Jonah Bettger (coxswain), Carly Lant, Ella Brinkman, Lily Bjork, Yuki Saburi