OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Ending its regular season on a positive note, the Western Washington University women’s rowing team swept both the varsity eight and varsity four races Saturday at the Central Sprints on the Oklahoma River.
The Vikings are looking to earn a berth in the NCAA Division II National Championships on May 30 to June 1 at Indianapolis, Ind. The selection show is Monday at 2 p.m. and will be streamed on NCAA.com.
“I thought we raced pretty well today for mid-May,” said WWU head coach John Fuchs (16th year). “I felt we needed a good performance, and we got one. For the most part, the conditions were pretty good, except for some side winds.”
“Central Oklahoma was a great host. They put together a nice program for us.”
WWU’s varsity eight won by nearly 12 seconds, completing the 2,000 meters in 6:58.24. Host Central Oklahoma was second in 7:10.89 and Seattle Pacific third in 7:33.20. Central Oklahoma has placed fifth at nationals in each of the last two years.
“They put together a good performance,” Fuchs said of the varsity eight. “We’re definitely finding the right race plan.”
The Vikings finished one-two in the varsity four race, the A-boat having a winning time of 7:42.9 and the B entry finishing in 7:51.8. Two Central Oklahoma shells followed with times of 7:59.1 and 8:19.9.
“Both fours did really well,” said Fuchs. “Those kids in the second boat will all be back next year, so that’s a good sign.”
WWU has rowed in every NCAA II national championship since the inaugural event in 2002 and the Vikings hope to continue that streak. They have placed among the top three in each of those 12 seasons, winning national titles for seven straight years from 2005 to 2011.
“The varsity four hasn’t lost to a Division II team this season and the varsity eight has been right there,” Fuchs said of his 2014 team. “So, I think it looks good for us. I think we definitely deserve to be there. I believe we are one the best teams in the country.”
The Vikings ranked No.3 in the latest Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/USRowing NCAA II national poll behind defending champion Nova Southeastern and Humboldt State, which won the 2012 title. Barry FL was No.4, Mercyhurst No.5, UC San Diego No.6, Florida Tech No.7 and Central Oklahoma No.8.