D2 Rowing – Western Washington Six-Peats!
Western Washington University won its sixth straight national team title Sunday at the ninth annual NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing National Championships held on Lake Natoma at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.
It is the first time that a school in any NCAA rowing division has claimed six straight crowns since the NCAA began a rowing championship in 1997.
“It was a great year,” said Western coach John Fuchs (12th year). “What an awesome team. They had great chemistry. They’re nice kids and good students and they worked well with each other. It was really a fun year, a fun group to coach for sure.”
For the first in their championship run, Western did not win the varsity eight, finishing four seats behind Mercyhurst PA. But that result, combined with an impressive five boat-length victory by the four, was enough for another championship.
“It was a helluva race,” Fuchs said. “Hats off to Mercyhurst, they’ve got a good crew and are well coached. It was a great race. Our kids didn’t leave anything out there. It was close the whole way with some good times.”
The Vikings’ four dominated, completing the 2,000-meter course in 7:25.35, over 18 seconds better than second-place Florida Tech (7:43.84) with Philadelphia third (7:56.92).
“They had probably their best race of the year, and it’s always good to do that on a day like today,” said Fuchs. “The field wasn’t that strong, but our kids had a great run. I think that’s the best time or pretty close to the best time we’ve ever posted down here.”
Mercyhurst led throughout the eight race, edging Western, ranked No.1 in the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA II Poll, by 2.39 seconds. Mercyhurst, which placed second last year after entering the final rated No.1, won the 2004 national title, the last time the Vikings lost to a Division II opponent in the varsity eight, when they placed third.
“Mercyhurst was a little faster today,” Fuchs said. “They earned the right to say that they’re the best eight out there.”
Western took the team championship with 20 points, followed by Seattle Pacific 11, Philadelphia 10 and Florida Tech 9. Mercyhurst was not eligible because the Lakers only got an at-large bid for their varsity eight.
– Courtesy WWU Athletics