Bronchos Get Their Reps In Against Division I Competition
Central Oklahoma fared well last weekend, taking six head-to-head races against Seattle Pacific and competing well against Kansas.
Central Oklahoma fared well last weekend, taking six head-to-head races against Seattle Pacific and competing well against Kansas.

Friday, April 1, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – Central Oklahoma’s quest for a fourth straight Division II women’s rowing national championship means racing top-flight competition whenever it can.

Such was the case last Saturday as the Bronchos hosted Seattle Pacific and Division I Kansas for a regatta along the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City. While the Division I boats certainly tested the GNAC programs, both the Bronchos and Falcons held their own.

“We raced well today and I think most importantly we can take something from today’s racing and learn from it and get better,” said UCO head rowing coach Brian Ebke. “We know we can get better in some areas today and that’s the hope is that we continue to get better as the season goes along.”

Central Oklahoma was a competitive third in the Varsity 8+ race against the Jayhawks, crossing the line just six seconds behind the lead boat in a time of 6:54.34. The Varsity 4+ placed fourth in a time of 7:56.71.

Racing against Division I teams from the Midwest makes up the bulk of Central Oklahoma’s regular-season schedule. The Bronchos hosted Creighton earlier in March and will host Oklahoma State and Wichita State this Saturday in the team’s final home regatta of the season.

Seattle Pacific traveled its longest distance since the 2019 season and made the most of the opportunity. The Falcons’ Varsity 4+ placed second in between both Kansas entries with a time of 7:48.77, six seconds behind the lead boat and eight seconds ahead of Central Oklahoma.

In the races between just the two GNAC programs, however, it was all Bronchos. Central Oklahoma took six of the seven duels between the two schools. In the second flight of races on the day, Central Oklahoma won the Varsity 8+ in a time of 6:56.45 and the Varsity 4+ in a time of 7:55.49. Seattle Pacific’s win was in one of two Novice 8+ sprint races in a time of 1:51.47 over 500 meters.

Cal Poly Humboldt, meanwhile, continued its road back from a long COVID layoff by hosting its first regatta on Humboldt Bay since 2019. The Lumberjacks won all three women’s races against a small field in a sprint format that included a pair of fours races and one race of twos. The top Varsity 4+ boat crossed the line in a time of 8:18.54.

Both Seattle Pacific and Western Washington will be on the water this weekend. The Falcons will split their squad, sending a boat to the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships for races on Saturday. The rest of the Falcons squad, along with the Vikings, will be on the Montlake Cut for the Husky Open.

The FIRA Championships will be a solid test to see where the Falcons stand in their chances to make the 2022 NCAA Championships. Seattle Pacific will face off against three other nationally-ranked programs in Barry (third), Embry-Riddle (fifth) and Florida Tech (eighth) as well as Rollins, which received votes this week. The Falcons are seeded No. 2 in the Varsity 8+ race between the Division II programs.

For Western Washington, it will be the program’s first race since the season-opening PLU Invitational on Mar. 5. The Vikings will compete three times in April, racing against SPU and Cal Poly Humboldt in the Falcon Regatta on Apr. 9 and traveling to the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships on Apr. 30.

NATIONAL RANKINGS: Two GNAC teams moved up a spot in the latest Pocock/College Rowing Coaches Association Division II Poll.

Despite not racing since Mar. 5, Western Washington inched up one spot to No. 4 in the rankings. Cal Poly Humboldt also climbed one spot to No. 7 after its home races on Humboldt Bay.

The two GNAC teams that competed against each other did not move. Central Oklahoma retained the top spot in the poll with 181 points but, for the first time this season, did not receive all of the first-place votes. Mercyhurst, the runner-up to the Bronchos at the 2021 NCAA Championships, earned the fifth first-place vote. Seattle Pacific remained ranked at No. 6.

GNAC COACHES POLL: Central Oklahoma is the choice of conference coaches to repeat as champions, receiving all four first-place votes to lead the 2022 GNAC Women’s Rowing Preseason Coaches Poll.

Central Oklahoma won the inaugural conference title on Vancouver Lake last May, sweeping both the varsity 8+ and varsity 4+ for a perfect score of 30 points. The Bronchos repeated the feat later that month in Saratoga, Florida, sweeping both grand finals for a score of 30 points and that third straight national championship trophy.

In addition to agreeing on Central Oklahoma to defend the title, conference coaches agreed on the complete predicted order of finish in 2022. Seattle Pacific was picked second with 12 points, followed by Western Washington with eight points and Cal Poly Humboldt (formerly Humboldt State) with four points.

Seattle Pacific took second at the GNAC Championships with 25 points, placing second in both the varsity 8+ and varsity 4+ finals. The Falcons return eight rowers from last year’s team.

Western Washington was third at the 2021 GNAC Championships after having rowed a limited schedule of just two regattas prior to the conference regatta. This year, Western Washington has five regattas scheduled for the May conference championships.

Cal Poly Humboldt’s only regatta during the COVID-19 pandemic was the 2021 GNAC Championships, which ended before it started thanks to equipment issues on the team’s four-person boat. Cal Poly Humboldt competed in one regatta during the fall season and has six regattas on the schedule before this year’s conference championships.