Bearcats Finish Fourth in Quality Heat of WV8+ at WIRA Championships

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. -- Willamette University placed fourth against quality competition and a strong wind in a preliminary heat of the women's varsity 8+ on the first day of the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championship Regatta at Lake Natoma. The Bearcats registered a time of 7:26.2 and just missed qualifying for the Grand Final by 3.5 seconds.

Three of the top NCAA Division II crews in the nation took the top three spots in the WV8+. Willamette has one of the leading NCAA Division III crews in the Pacific Northwest.

Western Washington University won the heat in 7:10.5, followed by Seattle Pacific University at 7:15.6 and Humboldt State University at 7:22.7. The Bearcats placed in front of Mills College (7:28.0), the University of Colorado club team (7:35.2) and Chapman University (8:08.8) in the heat. The race was contested with approximately 20 mile-per-hour crosswinds with strong gusts.

According to WU coxswain Blair Davis, the heat in the WV8+ was a tight race with the top four boats mostly separated by only a seat.

All of the crews struggled when a large gust of wind occurred at the 1250-meter mark. The gust caused the boats to spread out. WU recovered to cross the finish line just behind Humboldt State.

Willamette will race in the Petite Final of the WV8+ on Sunday, May 1 at 11:20 a.m. (PDT).

"I am very proud of their race and their ability to row so well in the wind," Willamette Head Coach Susan Parkman said. "I am very excited to see what our various crews will do in the finals tomorrow morning."

The Willamette mens' varsity 8+ finished 5th in their heat in similarly rough conditions with gusts to 25 miles per hour. WU crossed the finish line in 6:45.5, ahead of Pacific Lutheran University (6:46.8) in a great sprint. Washington State University won the heat with a time of 6:18.0.

WU will face several of its Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference (NCRC) rivals in the Third Final on Sunday.  The race Sunday is slated to start at 11:10 a.m. (PDT).

The women's second varsity 8+ for the Bearcats, seeded second, will race Sunday in a direct final at 10:40 a.m.. Willamette will row against Western Washington, Humboldt, the University of California-Santa Barbara and Mills.

WV8+: c Blair Davis, 8 Heidi Hunt, 7 Jessie Lovell, 6 Kate Pfeiffer, 5 Lea Griggs, 4 Christina Thorburn, 3 Jenna Chiono, 2 Larissa Stiglich, and bow Sarah Ferrier.

W2V8+: c Kara Hafkey, 8 Marguex Hunter, 7 Leslie Schultz, 6 Marjolein San den Boom, 5 Meredith Miller, 4 Karina Hoogstede , 3 Sophie Hearn, 2 Annie Bender, and bow Katy Kaszubinski.

MV8+: c Jenna Shellan, 8 Maxx Kaplan, 7 Till Gwinn, 6 Jackson Lowe 5 David Solomon,  4 Maxwell Mensinger, 3 Nate Keffer, 2 Wesley Dawn, and bow Joel Ribbens.

WIRA Championship Regatta
Lake Natoma
Sacramento, Calif.
April 30 - May 1
Willamette placed fourth behind three NCAA Division II crews in a very strong heat of the WV8+.

Willamette placed fourth behind three NCAA Division II crews in a very strong heat of the WV8+.