Vikings Runners-Up At Division II Rowing Championships
Western Washington earned its fifth national runner-up finish and its 18th top-three finish in Division II women's rowing.
Western Washington earned its fifth national runner-up finish and its 18th top-three finish in Division II women's rowing.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

SARASOTA, Fla. – Thanks to a very strong showing in the varsity 8+ race, Western Washington rowed its way back onto the podium, finishing as the national runner-up at the NCAA Division II Rowing Championships on Saturday at Nathan Brenderson Park.

The Vikings secured the trophy with an epic race that saw the varsity 8+ match eventual national champion Mercyhurst and Thomas Jefferson match each other stroke for stroke over the first 1,500 meters of the grand final. Over the final 500 meters, however, Thomas Jefferson dropped off the pace and it was a race for the title.

Both crews dug deep but the WWU team of coxswain Adele Houston and rowers Haley Moss, Lindsey Froelich, Morgan MacIntyre, Clarice Ruhlin-Hicks, Maddie Bangasser, Yuki Saburi, Olivia Pells and Sarah Ernst could not hold off Mercyhurst from its comeback from third over the final quarter. Mercyhurst won in a time of 7:03.709. Western Washington clocked in at 7:03.739.

The second-place points, combined with the four points earned with a victory in the varsity 4+ petite final, allowed Western Washington to finish tied with Embry-Riddle (Fla.) with 19 points. The team tie was broken by placement in varsity 8+, with the Vikings’ second place bettering the Eagles’ fourth place.

For Western Washington, it is the fifth runner-up finish in program history and the first since the 2018 championships. It is the 18th time that WWU has landed on the rowing podium with eight national championships and five third-place finishes.

Mercyhurst won both the varsity 8+ and varsity 4+ championships and ended Central Oklahoma’s national title string at three, winning with a perfect score of 30 points. The Broncos finished fifth with 14 points and Seattle Pacific placed sixth with nine points.

After a delay of almost two hours due to lightning, Western Washington started the day off right by leading from start to finish in the varsity 4+ petite final. The crew of coxswain Claudia Webster and rowers Emma Clark, Paige Donner, Reed Chesnek and Kristina DeKoster built a six-second lead over Thomas Jefferson in the first 500 meters and never looked back. The Vikings posted an 18-second victory, winning in a time of 8:21.10.

In the varsity 4+ grand final, Central Oklahoma found itself a few strokes behind its East Coast foes, placing third in a time of 7:55.41. The crew of coxswain Yesenia Gil-Salazar and rowers Morgan McBurnett, Danielle Holle, Sinead Quirke and Cameron Pence were in a close second after 500 meters, but could not keep up with the impressive pace kept up national champion Mercyhurst, which won in a time of 7:47.47.

Seattle Pacific placed fourth in the varsity 4+ grand final with the crew of coxswain Moxie McCandless and rowers Magan Popielak, Kristin Grassell, Avalon Tarbet-Mendoza and Audrey Rekedal crossing the line in a time of 8:10.23.

The Bronchos led from start to finish in the varsity 8+ petite final with the crew of coxswain Madisyn Kitchell and rowers Kenna Chamlee, Danielle Dick, Keyna Holleman, Faith Brooks, Hope Brooks, Allison Staley, Sage Kroeker and Kelsey Woellmer winning in a time of 7:00.38. Seattle Pacific was a close second with the crew of coxswain LeeAnn Arrington and rowers Jennifer Hoag, Macie Leach, Jacinta Grandel, Natalie Korolenko, Elise Arkills, Kalais Samuelson and Danielle Johnson crossing in a time of 7:02.32.