Three GNAC Teams Qualify For Rowing Championships
The three GNAC programs will row together at the Division II Championships for the first time since 2019. Photo by Steve Gibbons.
The three GNAC programs will row together at the Division II Championships for the first time since 2019. Photo by Steve Gibbons.

Monday, May 16, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – The NCAA Division II Rowing Championships will have quite the GNAC flavor to it.

Following a very competitive GNAC Championships that saw the top three teams separated by just two points, Central Oklahoma, Seattle Pacific and Western Washington all received invitations to the national regatta on May 27 and 28 at Nathan Brenderson Park in Sarasota, Florida. The conference comprises half of the six-team field to compete for the championship.

Central Oklahoma will be competing for its fourth consecutive national championship. The Bronchos swept the varsity 8+ and varsity 4+ grand finals in 2021 to win its third straight title with a perfect score of 30 points. Ranked second in the May 11 Pocock/CRCA Division II poll, UCO won the varsity 4+ by 11 seconds at Saturday’s GNAC Championships and proceeded to take third in a close varsity 8+ race to finish third in the team standings. The Bronchos were the inaugural GNAC champions in 2021.

Western Washington, the top seed from the West Region, returns to the NCAA Championships after a three-year absence. Eight-time national champions, the Vikings last climbed to the top of the podium in 2017, were the national runners-up in 2018 and placed third in 2019. The Vikings’ varsity 4+ won the national title in 2018, finishing four seconds ahead of Central Oklahoma.

This year, however, it is the varsity 8+ that has Western Washington talking. The boat pulled off the shocker to win the marquee race at the GNAC Championships in a time of 7:03.43, crossing the finish line one second ahead of Seattle Pacific and three seconds ahead of Central Oklahoma. The victory proved to be enough to give the Vikings their first GNAC team championship with 26 points. Western Washington was ranked No. 5 in the May 11 Pocock/CRCA Division II Poll.

Seattle Pacific returns to the national regatta for the first time since 2019, which was the last time the championships had a full six-team field before the COVID pandemic. The Falcons placed fourth that season. Despite a No. 2 West Region ranking and a No. 2 ranking in the CRCA poll in 2021, the Falcons were left out of the four-team nationals field.

Like Western Washington, Seattle Pacific’s performance at the GNAC Championships clinched the team’s at-large berth. The Falcons placed second in both the varsity 4+ and varsity 8+ and finished one point back of the Vikings in the team standings with 25 points. The varsity 8+ crossed just one second behind WWU in a time of 7:04.32. The Falcons were ranked No. 4 in the May 11 Pocock/CRCA Division II Poll.

The remainder of the six-team national regatta field includes Sunshine State Conference champion Embry-Riddle (Fla.) and East Region programs Mercyhurst and Thomas Jefferson.

The Division II Championships begin on Friday, May 27 with preliminary heats that start at 11:24 a.m. (Eastern). Central Oklahoma and Seattle Pacific will face Mercyhurst in heat A of the eights while Western Washington lines up with Thomas Jefferson and Embry-Riddle in heat B. In the fourth, Seattle Pacific faces Embry-Riddle and Thomas Jefferson in heat A while Central Oklahoma and Western Washington face Mercyhurst in heat B.

The repechage will take place Friday afternoon at 5:24 p.m. (Eastern). The finals begin on Saturday at 11 a.m., with the varsity 4+ grand final beginning at 11:12 a.m. and the varsity 8+ grand final taking place at noon.