Willamette Women's Novice Crew Wins Gold at Charlie S. Brown Regatta in Portland

PORTLAND, ORE. -- In a fierce head wind, the Willamette University women’s crew passed three other crews, striking 28 strokes per minute, to steal the novice women’s 8+ race at the Charlie S. Brown Regatta on Saturday, Oct. 21, on the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. In a six-boat race representing the top novice Division III collegiate crews in the Pacific Northwest, the Willamette women battled through rough waters for their victory in 23:48. The Bearcats won the race by one minute and seven seconds over the University of Puget Sound, which finished the event with a time of 24:55. Pacific Lutheran was third at 24:56.

The Charlie S. Brown Regatta, named after a former coach at Lewis & Clark College who passed away from cancer in 2002, is a featured northwest fall regatta with four Division III rowing programs competing, along with Portland State University. The conditions throughout the day remained challenging and were much different than the calm waters where the Bearcats practice on the Willamette River in Salem, Ore.

Some athletes raced twice in both a four-oared shell and an eight-oared shell. Freshman Kirsten Barta (Hopkins, MN/Hopkins HS), described her first race as, “The hardest thing I have ever done in my life!”

When asked how she felt about racing the course again in the eight, without hesitation, she smiled and said, “Bring it on! The eight will be more stable and I think we are a strong line up”.

Barta was right, as the Willamette women’s team managed to pull through Portland State and Puget Sound (who started earlier than WU in the staggered team start format) and turned spectators’ heads on the beach, as they beat the clock against Lewis & Clark and Pacific Lutheran to take the gold.

The Willamette novice women’s 8+ (all class of 2010), included coxswain Eliza Edwards (Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS), stroke Julie Vernarsky (Enterprise, OR/Enterprise HS), seven seat Barta, six seat Caitlin Dilli (Littleton, CO/Heritage HS), five seat Jasmine Henry (Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS), four seat Hilary Andrus (Chimacum, WA/Chimacum Valley HS), three seat Kim Cowan (Kalispell, MT/Flathead HS), two seat Megan Delph (West Linn, OR/West Linn HS), and bow Lacey Ellingson (Shoreview, MN/Moundsview HS). The WU women’s varsity four of coxswain Rebecca Ralston (Sr., Salt Lake City, UT/Judge Memorial Catholic HS), stroke seat Laura Jones (Jr., Boise, ID/Boise HS), three seat Kimber Grady (Sr., Seattle, WA/Ballard HS), two seat Ashley San Blise (Sr., Salem, OR/South Salem HS) and bow seat Emily Mitchell (Fr., Vancouver, WA/Columbia River HS) faced a strong field and missed the gold by 21 seconds, finishing behind only UPS, which was seventh in the country last year in women’s eights at the NCAA Championships.

Coxed by Rebecca Norton (Jr., Colorado Springs, CO/Cheyenne Mountain HS), the men’s novice 8+ of stroke Dan Warren (Fr., Davis, CA/Davis Sr. HS), seven seat Aram Krueger (Fr., Silverton, OR/Silverton HS), six seat Albert Wright (Fr., South Wales, NY/South Wales HS), five seat Marc Whitehead (Fr., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS), four seat Mike Isaacs (Fr., Las Vegas, NV/Ed W. Clark HS), three seat Sean Koble (Sr., Eugene, OR/Churchill HS), two seat Ben Anderson (Fr., Portland, OR/Grant HS) and bow Patrick Heck (Fr., Colorado Springs, CO/Palmer HS), pulled through the UPS men’s shell to earn second place. Lewis & Clark won the race in 20:57, while Willamette clocked in at 21:33.

The WU rowing team brought home four entries in third place, including the women’s and men’s novice 4+’s, and the men’s varsity 8+ and varsity 4+. The Bearcats managed to have crews place from every squad, and a total of seven crews place out of Willamette’s overall total of nine entries.

Head Coach Susan Parkman said, “I am so proud of our team’s efforts and performance today in such adverse conditions! ”

In the overall standings, including varsity and novice races, Willamette took third place behind Puget Sound and Lewis & Clark. UPS won the overall title with 16 points (3 for each 1st place, 2 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd), while Lewis & Clark scored 15 and Willamette scored 11. Pacific Lutheran tallied seven points and Portland State did not score.

Willamette will complete its fall schedule in a three-way regatta with Lewis & Clark and the Puget Sound on Sunday, Oct. 29. The regatta will be held at American Lake in Tacoma, Wash.