Vikings Picked To Repeat As Women's Rowing Champions
Western Washington's 2023 team is led by returning All-Americans Clarice Ruhlin-Hicks and Lindsey Froelich. Photo by Steve Gibbons.
Western Washington's 2023 team is led by returning All-Americans Clarice Ruhlin-Hicks and Lindsey Froelich. Photo by Steve Gibbons.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. – Three years removed from its last podium finish, Western Washington returned to the the top of the Division II rowing world in 2022 with a runner-up finish at the Division II Championships.

Coaches expect the Vikings to be among the best again, leading a close finish in the 2023 GNAC Women’s Rowing Preseason Coaches Poll.

Western Washington received two of four first-place votes to lead the poll with 13 points. Seattle Pacific is picked second with 11 points and Central Oklahoma is picked third with 10 points. Both teams received a first-place vote. Cal Poly Humboldt is picked fourth with six points.

The Vikings won their first GNAC championship last year, using a close victory in the varsity 8+ race to finish ahead of Seattle Pacific for the team title with 26 points. The varsity 8+ crew was one second faster than the second-place Falcons while the WWU varsity 4+ boat placed third. Western Washington went on to place second at the Division II Championships, marking the 13th time that the program has finished second or better, buoyed by a close second-place finish in the varsity 8+ grand final. Western Washington also won the gold medal in the varsity 8+ D2/D3/Club final at the WIRA Championships.

Western Washington opened the 2023 season by winning one race at the PLU Invitational on Saturday, capturing the second section varsity 8+ race in a time of 7:11.17 and placing second in three other races.

The Vikings are led by senior Clarice Ruhlin-Hicks, who earned First Team All-GNAC and First Team All-American honors in 2022. She was also named the Elite 90 Award winner at the NCAA Championships, which honors the participant at each NCAA Championships site with the highest GPA. The Vikings also return a Second Team All-American in junior Lindsey Froelich, an All-GNAC selection in junior Morgan MacIntyre and sophomore Sarah Ernst, who was the 2022 GNAC Freshman of the Year.

Seattle Pacific continued its renaissance in head coach Caitlin McClain’s second season as the Falcons returned to the Division II Championships for the first time since 2019. The Falcons placed sixth as a team and were led by the varsity 4+, which placed fourth in the grand final. At the GNAC Championships, Seattle Pacific placed second in all three races, the closest race being the one-second differential between SPU and Western Washington in the varsity 8+ final. The Falcons also placed second in the D2/D3/Club varsity 4+ grand final at the WIRA Championship and won the second varsity 8+ final.

One of two GNAC teams to row in the fall non-championship season, Seattle Pacific opened the championship segment of the schedule by winning six races at the PLU Invitational on Saturday. The Falcons won both varsity 8+ and both varsity 4+ races they competed in.

Seattle Pacific returns nine team members that competed at the NCAA Championships last year. The crews are led by senior Macie Leach, who earned both First Team All-GNAC and First Team All-American honors, and senior Moxie McCandless, who provides the Falcons an experienced coxswain.

After nearly four years as the class of Division II, Central Oklahoma took a small step back from its spot at the top in 2022. After winning three consecutive Division II Championships, the Bronchos placed fifth with a score of 14 points. Central Oklahoma placed a close third in the varsity 4+ grand final in a time of 7:55.41. At the GNAC Championships, the Bronchos placed third with 24 points and won the varsity 4+ title with a time of 7:54.954.

Central Oklahoma raced in two fall regattas and opened the season last weekend by racing three Division I programs on their home course on the Oklahoma River. The Bronchos will race three consecutive weekends on the home course, all against Division I programs.

The Bronchos return a small but experienced lineup in 2023 under first-year head coach Jen Gilbert. Junior Faith Brooks was a First Team All-GNAC and Second Team All-American last year and leads five UCO rowers that competed at the 2022 Division II Championships. Returners also include senior Kenna Chamlee and sophomore Sinead Quirke.

Cal Poly Humboldt finished fourth at the GNAC Championships in its first year fully participating in the championship regatta. The Lumberjacks were a close fourth in the varsity 4+ final and placed third in the varsity 4+ exhibition race. The team opens the 2022-23 season this weekend, entering crews into the Sacramento State Invite and the UC Davis Regatta.

The Lumberjacks are led by senior Malia Seeley, who earned First Team All-GNAC and Second Team All-American honors last year. Experience will be key with Humboldt returning eight team members from last year’s varsity 8+ crew.

The 2023 GNAC Women’s Rowing Championships returns to Dexter Lake in Dexter, Oregon, on Saturday, May 13. For the second straight year, the championship regatta will be held in conjunction with the Pac-12 Championships. The 2023 Division II Championships will be held from May 26-27 in Pennsauken, N.J.

Rank Team (1st Place Votes) Points
1. Western Washington (2) 13
2. Seattle Pacific (1) 11
3. Central Oklahoma (1) 10
4. Cal Poly Humboldt 6
Points awarded on 4-3-2-1 basis.