A photo finish was needed in the eight grand final to determine that Western Washington University had fallen short in its bid for an eighth national team championship at the 13th annual NCAA Division II National Women's Rowing Championships which ended Sunday at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis.
Just two points separated the top three teams, the tightest finish in the history of the event.
Humboldt State took its second crown in three years with 16 points, one ahead of defending champion Nova Southeastern FL and two in front of the Vikings.
WWU began the morning with the four making a late move to take its grand final by less than two seconds over Nova Southeastern with Humboldt State third.
The Vikings' eight led for the first half of its grand final before being passed by Humboldt State, which won by one-half boat length.
However, WWU was still in position to win the team championship with a runner-up finish, and it battled Nova Southeastern for the last 200 meters before being edged out by one foot on the final stroke. A photo finish was required to determine the placing of the two schools.
WWU's eight finished third in 7 minutes, 15.42 seconds over the 2,000-meter race, just a fraction of a second behind runner-up Nova Southeastern with a 7:15.36 clocking. Humboldt State's winning time was 7:13.41 and Barry was fourth in 7:31.28.
The Vikings' four, which did not lose to a DII school this season, placed first in 7:59.31 with Nova Southeastern second in 8:01.60 and Humboldt State a distant third in 8:23.50.
It is the seventh time that a WWU four has taken top honors at nationals.
WWU, which has competed in every DII national meet since the event began in 2002, continued its streak of always placing among the top three. The Vikings won seven national titles from 2005 to 2011, an NCAA record for all rowing divisions, and have never had an eight or four not reach a grand final at nationals.
WWU entered the national championships ranked No.3 in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/USRowing DII Poll with Nova Southeastern No.1 and Humboldt State No.3.
Seated in the Vikings' four were coxswain Kate Nelson, stroke Audra Massey, No. 3 Jenny Chang, No. 2 Olivia Gangmark-Strickland, and bow Katya Hewitt.
The WWU eight was made up of coxswain Maeghan Callegari, stroke Catrina Cuadra, No. 7 Regan Wessman, No. 6 Lauren Ramstead, No. 5 Megan Marler, No. 4 Olivia Rowland, No. 3 Christine Henie, No. 2 Emily Bartlett, and bow Emily Little.
This was the third national run for WWU assistant captain Callegari, team captain Henie, Wessman and Rowland. They were in the varsity four in 2012.
It was the second trip to nationals for Cuadra, Gangmark-Strickland, Massey, Nelson and Ramstead, and the first for Bartlett, Chang, Hewitt, Little, Marler and Still.