Ain't Life Grand: Bronchos Positioned For Title Repeat
The UCO Varsity 8+ led all boats in the Division II preliminaries with a time of 6:34.5. Photo by Steve Gibbons.
The UCO Varsity 8+ led all boats in the Division II preliminaries with a time of 6:34.5. Photo by Steve Gibbons.

Friday, May 28, 2021

SARASOTA, Fla. – It will take a mammoth effort to keep Central Oklahoma from its third consecutive national title.

The Bronchos put together a pair of dominant preliminaries performances Friday, automatically advancing to both grand finals races at the NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing Championships at Nathan Benderson Park.

The Varsity 8+ posted the fastest time of the preliminaries, crossing the line in a time of 6:34.5. The Bronchos post a 40-second victory in its race over Embry-Riddle (Fla.) and was 14 seconds faster than the next boat in the field, Mercyhurst, which won the second race in a time of 6:48.6.

Central Oklahoma’s Varsity 4+ was just as dominant, pulling ahead over the final 1,000 meters to win its preliminaries race over Florida Tech by 35 seconds in a time of 7:36.8. The Bronchos’ time was 24 seconds faster than Mercyhurst’s second-race winning time of 8:00.9.

The Varsity 8+ established its dominance over the first-time nationals qualifier Eagles early, establishing a one boat-length lead over the first 250 meters. The Bronchos extended their lead to 15 seconds at 1,000 meters and 23 seconds at 1,500 meters.

The Central Oklahoma Varsity 8+ crew is comprised coxswain Madisyn Kitchell and rowers Kateryna Klymenko (bow), Megan Dwarshuis, Shelby Wackerly, Cameron Blunk, Hope Brooks, Faith Brooks, Keyna Holleman and Siobhan Quirke. The crew will race for the Bronchos’ third straight Varsity 8+ title on Sunday at 9:36 a.m. (EDT).

The Varsity 4+ race started much closer with Central Oklahoma owning a two-second lead over Florida Tech at the 500-meter split. The crew’s stroke rate stayed consistent, allowing the Bronchos to open up a 20-second lead at 1,000 meters and a 21-second advantage at 1,500 meters en route to the victory.

The Central Oklahoma Varsity 4+ crew is comprised of coxswain Yesenia Gil-Salazar and rowers Sage Kroeker (bow), Danielle Dick, Allison Staley and Kelsey Woellmer. The Bronchos will aim to repeat as champion in the grand final on Sunday at 9:24 a.m. (EDT).