WWU Vikings

Bad memories linger in these waters, but would WWU rowing find smooth sailing this time?

The Western Washington University women’s rowing team won the 2017 NCAA Division II national championship, edging out Central Oklahoma Sunday on Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J.

It marks the eighth time in program history the Vikings have won the national title and the first time since it won seven straight from 2005-11. The championship was also the 11th in all sports for WWU Athletics, according to a school release, and the second this school year, as the rowers joined the women’s soccer team from last fall.

The Vikings scored 17 points to beat out Central Oklahoma’s 16. Mercyhurst was third with 12.

“This is an awesome feeling for the team and the athletic department,” coach John Fuchs said in the release. “The last time we were here (in West Windsor in 2012), we finished second to end our streak. To come full circle and to be back on top of the podium here is a great feeling.”

The Vikings won the Fours competition with a time of 7 minutes, 51.610 seconds on the 2,000 meter course, beating out second-place Mercyhurst and third-place Central Oklahoma. WWU led the entire way, winning by 15 seconds. The Fours were led by junior coxswain Madison Moelhman with crew members Nicole Vanderzanden, Mary Harper, Kelly Oberbillig and Madison Kerr.

“The fours really set the tone for the meet for us, racing with confidence and a great attitude,” Fuchs said. “They developed quickly after the WIRA’s and really became a strong crew. They had a fantastic race today. Hats off to them.”

Western finished second to Central Oklahoma in the Eights by just over two seconds with a time of 7:00.569 despite a strong second half. The Eights were coxed by Giselle Kiraly and featured a veteran crew of Chloe Burns, Karisa Stapp, Kia Parrish-Haim, Molly Ware, Claire Whiting, Izzy Barnwell, Megan Reid and Kasey Mallon-Andrews.

Stapp is a graduate of Mount Baker High School.