Western Washington University won its qualifying heats in the women’s four and eight races on Saturday at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships being held at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma.
Both shells advance to Sunday’s grand finals with the eight going at 11:50 a.m. and the four at 8 a.m.
WWU, ranked No.2 in this week’s Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/USRowing NCAA Division II Poll, took its four race by 14.10 seconds over runner-up Long Beach State in the six-boat field with a time of 7:50.00 over the 2,000-meter course.
The Vikings’ eight was victorious by seven seconds with a clocking of 7:01.40. Puget Sound was second (7:08.40) among five boats.
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“It’s hard to compare the times because the winds were breezy off and on,” said WWU head coach John Fuchs (16th year) said in a press release. “Both of our crews did what they were supposed to do and that was to execute their race plan for today and get in the final. The main goal was to row a real solid and hard race and that’s what they did.
“I was very pleased with how they finished and how they rowed. They were very well composed. They both got off the line clean and just went to work. It will be a good final for sure and I’m hoping that we have some nice weather conditions.”
The eight had a different lineup for the first time this season as Lauren Ramstead, who normally occupies the No. 6 seat, was out with a back injury. She is expected to return next week.
Seated in WWU’s eight were coxswain Maeghan Callegari, stroke Catrina Cuadra, No. 7 Regan Wessman, No. 6 Olivia Rowland, No. 5 Megan Marler, No. 4 Katya Hewitt, No. 3 Christine Henie, No. 2 Emily Bartlett, and bow Emily Little.
In the Vikings’ four were coxswain Kate Nelson, stroke Audra Massey, No.3 Jenny Chang, No.2 Cosette Still, and bow Olivia Gangmark-Strickland.
Sunday’s grand finals could have a big bearing on which West Region schools reach the national championships.
“It will be a factor because we will not see Humboldt State or UC San Diego again during the regular season,” Fuchs said.” So, it could have a large impact on how the West Region plays out, we just don’t know how much.”
WWU’s eight is working on three-year grand final winning streak at the WIRA Regatta and the four has won gold two of the last three seasons. Both boats did not compete at the meet in 2010 after each placed first in 2009.