Willamette Rowing Set to Kick Off Spring Season

By John Lind, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's and women's rowing teams will begin the 2013 spring season when they travel north to Tacoma, Wash., this Saturday, March 16 and participate in the Governor's Cup Regatta hosted by the University of Puget Sound.

Willamette, UPS, and Lewis & Clark College will be the three teams competing in the regatta. After this weekend, there are five more events for both teams on th regular season schedule, and all of the meets will take place in Oregon, Washington, and California.

Head Coach Ryan Miller is entering his second season at the helm of the Bearcat rowing program. He joined the coaching staff as an assistant coach in the spring of 2011 and served as interim head coach during the 2011-12 season, before being named head coach this season.

Although Willamette is usually a member of the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference, the Bearcat rowing teams compete in the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference. The NCRC is made up of four Division III colleges and universities, plus three Division II universities, meaning the Bearcats will be facing tough competition all season long. Two of the women's Division II teams, Western Washington University and Humboldt State University, have combined to win the last eight national championships.

Miller doesn't see the level of competition as a problem, but rather an opportunity. "The competitiveness of our conference lends itself to creating fast crews," Miller said. "It is not unusual at the regional level for both programs to compete against Division I programs and succeed."

The men's team is returning three rowers from last year: Forrest Betton (So., Beaverton, OR/School of Science and Technology), Karsten Kern (So., Edmonds, WA/Woodway HS), and Connor Winnie (So., Clackamas, OR/Clackmas HS). Another returner is Maxwell Mensinger (Jr., Pleasanton, CA/Foothill HS), who rowed for the Bearcats during the 2010-11 season but studied abroad during the spring of 2012.

The women's team is currently comprised of 16 rowers, eight of whom are returning this from last year. Kate Pfeiffer (Sr., Redding, CA/University Preparatory School) is in her fourth year of rowing and the only senior on the team. The Bearcats, who have seven sophomores on the women's roster who competed last year, will look to build on that experience.

The Governor's Cup Regatta is set to begin races at 8 a.m. (PDT). The Bearcats will field teams in five different races on Saturday.

The Willamette rowing teams will open the season on Saturday, March 16 at the Governor's Cup Regatta in Tacoma, Wash.

The Willamette rowing teams will open the season on Saturday, March 16 at the Governor's Cup Regatta in Tacoma, Wash.