Four Of A Kind: All Four GNAC Teams Off To New Jersey
It is the first time in the GNAC's short women's rowing history that all four teams have qualified for the NCAA Championships. Photo by Steve Gibbons.
It is the first time in the GNAC's short women's rowing history that all four teams have qualified for the NCAA Championships. Photo by Steve Gibbons.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. – If you thought that the GNAC Women’s Rowing Championships would be a preview of what the Division II Championships would look like, you were right.

All four conference teams were selected to the field for the Division II Women’s Rowing Championships, which take place May 26 and 27 at the Camden County Boathouse in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The GNAC comprises two-thirds of the regatta field, which also includes Embry-Riddle (Fla.) and Thomas Jefferson.

The selections come on the heels of an extremely competitive GNAC Championships, which were held last Saturday on Dexter Lake in Dexter, Oregon. Central Oklahoma won its second conference title in three years with a score of 27 points but was just one point ahead of Cal Poly Humboldt, which finished with 26 points in its best-ever GNAC Championships finish.

Western Washington, the 2022 GNAC champion, placed third with 19 points and Seattle Pacific was fourth with 18 points.

The team point totals, however, don’t tell the story of how competitive the races were. While Central Oklahoma won the varsity 4+ with a five-second margin over Western Washington, just six seconds separated all four boats. Cal Poly Humboldt was a four-second winner over Central Oklahoma in the varsity 8+, just eight seconds separated all four crews.

In the last regional ranking prior to selections, Central Oklahoma was the top-ranked West Region, but Cal Poly Humboldt led the varsity 8+ rankings and Seattle Pacific topped the varsity 4+ rankings. In the last College Rowing Coaches Association/Pocock Division II Poll, released on May 3, Cal Poly Humboldt was ranked No. 1 followed by Central Oklahoma at No. 2, Seattle Pacific at No. 3 and Western Washington at No. 6.

For Cal Poly Humboldt, the selection marks the first time since 2015 that the Lumberjacks will be competing in the Division II regatta. Central Oklahoma is making its eighth-straight appearance and won three consecutive titles between 2018 and 2021 (the 2020 regatta was canceled due to COVID-19).

Western Washington and Seattle Pacific are making their second straight appearances in the Division II Championships after missing the field in 2021. The Vikings were the national runners-up in 2022 and will be making their 19th overall appearance. The Falcons are appearing in their seventh Division II regatta and the fourth time that the full team has qualified.

Based purely on numbers, the chances are good that the GNAC will have its second Division II champion since the conference began sponsoring rowing as a championship sport in the 2019-20 season. Since women’s rowing became a Division II championship sport in 2002, current GNAC teams have won 13 of 20 possible championships. Only twice in those 20 years did a current GNAC team not finish first or second.

Western Washington has eight of those championships, the most recent in 2017. The Vikings won seven straight titles between 2005 and 2011 and also earned runner-up finishes in 2002, 2003, 2012, 2018 and 2019. Cal Poly Humboldt won the title in 2012 and 2014 and finished runner-up in 2004. In addition to its three consecutive titles, Central Oklahoma was runner-up in 2016 and 2017. While Seattle Pacific has yet to win a championship, it was the runner-up in 2010.

Racing will begin on Friday, May 26. In the varsity 8+, Cal Poly Humboldt and Western Washington will be paired with Embry-Riddle in the first heat. Central Oklahoma and Seattle Pacific will be paired with Thomas Jefferson in the second heat. The order is reversed for the varsity 4+, with the Bronchos, Falcons and Thomas Jefferson rowing in heat one and the Vikings, Lumberjacks and Embry-Riddle rowing in the second heat.

The winners of each seat will advance automatically to Saturday’s grand finals. The non-winners will compete in the repechage on Friday afternoon with the top-two finishers advancing to the grand finals.

Camden County Boathouse, Pennsauken, New Jersey
All Times Eastern Daylight
Friday, May 26
11:24 a.m.: Varsity 8+ Heat 1 (Cal Poly Humboldt, Western Washington)
11:36 a.m.: Varsity 8+ Heat 2 (Central Oklahoma, Seattle Pacific)
11:48 a.m.: Varsity 4+ Heat 1 (Central Oklahoma, Seattle Pacific)
Noon: Varsity 4+ Heat 2 (Cal Poly Humboldt, Western Washington)
4:12 p.m.: Varsity 8+ Repechage
4:24 p.m.: Varsity 4+ Repechage

Saturday, May 27
11 a.m.: Varsity 4+ Petite Final
11:12 a.m.: Varsity 4+ Grand Final
11:48 a.m.: Varsity 8+ Petite Final
Noon: Varsity 8+ Grand Final