Willamette Finishes Third in Three Races at Daffodil Cup

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

TACOMA, WASH. -- The Willamette University rowing teams took third place in three races at the Daffodil Cup on Saturday, March 29 at American Lake. WU was third in the women's varsity eights, the women's novice fours and the men's novice eights.

The University of Puget Sound won five events. Washington State University and Western Washington University won three events each and Lewis & Clark College won one event. Western Washington has won the last three NCAA Division II women's championships and Puget Sound's women finished fourth in NCAA Division III last year.

WU's time in the WV8+ race was 8:42.5. The event was won by Western Washington in 7:59.7, with UPS taking second place at 8:13.5. L&C was fourth at 9:00.4 and Pacific Lutheran University was fifth at 9:21.85.

Rowing for Willamette in the women's varsity eights were stroke Lauren Schwartz (Sr., Medford, OR/St. Mary's HS), seven seat Laura Jones (Sr., Boise, ID/Boise HS), six seat Hilary Andrus (So., Chimacum, WA/Chimacum HS), five seat Jamaica Sweet (Fr., Florence, OR/Siuslaw HS), four seat Kesa Sovulewski (Fr., Bozeman, MT/Bozeman HS), three seat Lacey Ellingson (So., Shoreview, MN/Mounds View HS), two seat Geneva Hooten (Fr., Vancouver, WA/Mountain View HS) and bow Julie Vernarsky (So., Enterprise, OR/Enterprise HS). The coxswain was Erica Soma (Fr., Scotts Valley, CA/Scotts Valley HS).

"We continue to close the gap and look forward to seeing what kind of boat speed we can squeeze out of next week's training," Willamette Head Coach Susan Parkman said regarding the WV8+ competition. "I am thrilled with the progress of this young team (including the coxswain, there are four freshman and three sophomores)."

In the WN4+, Willamette clocked in at 10:21.89. Lewis & Clark was first at 9:45.2 and USP took second at 9:48.89. WU's time was 15 seconds better than Evergreen State College, which finished fourth at 10:36.89. The University of Portland was fifth with a time of 11:13.20. Willamette's WN4+ crew included Soma as the coxswain, Sovulewski at stroke, Sweet at three seat, Hooten at two seat and Fran Clawson (Fr., Bozeman, MT/Bozemand HS) at bow.

Willamette was timed at 9:12.34 in the men's novice eights. Three teams were entered in the race, with Washington State taking first with a time of 7:44.3 and Puget Sound finishing second at 8:01.43.

For WU, the men's novice eight featured Nathan Keefer (Fr., Santa Fe, NM/Monte Del Sol HS) as the stroke, John Schmidtbauer (Fr., Whittier, CA/Whittier HS) at seven seat, Alex Mott (Fr., Oakland, Ca/Sojourner Truth Academy) at six seat, Luke Johnson (So., Minneapolis, MN/Saint Louis Park HS) as the five seat, Paul McKean (Fr., Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) as the four seat, David Solomon (Fr., Orinda, CA/Miramonte HS) at the three seat, Joel Ribbens (Fr., Nikiski, AK/Nikiski HS) at two seat and Dave Reid (Fr., Shoreline, WA/Shorewood HS) at the bow. Linnea Schuster (Fr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) was the coxswain.

In head-to-head competition with arch rival Lewis & Clark, Willamette was 3-3 on the day. WU finished before L&C in the WV8+, WV4+ and WN8+ races. L&C was timed faster than the Bearcats in the MN4+, MV4+ and WN4+ races.

Women's novice eight was fourth overall, but finished in front of L&C, Evergreen and Portland. The Bearcats recorded a time of 9:17.64 to clock in just 12.09 seconds behind Pacific Lutheran. UPS won the event in 8:31.42 and Western Washington was second in 8:38.09. WU also took fourth in the women's novice fours, as the Bearcats earned a time of 9:18.05, less than five seconds behind UPS, which finished third.

For most of the athletes on Willamette's men's and women's rowing teams, the Daffodil Cup was their first competition in a 2,000-meter sprint race, following a fall season of longer "head-style" races against the clock. The weather conditions were challenging, with hail, snow, rain, wind and cold.

A strong head wind built throughout the day and eventually led to the cancellation of the last five events. As a result, the Bearcats' two lightweight women's fours, as well as the second novice men's four and WU's two men's and women's pairs were unable to participate.

Willamette returns to action on Saturday, April 5 at the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference (NCRC) Invitational at Vancouver Lake in Vancouver, Wash. The regatta, which gets underway at 8 a.m. (PDT), is a tune-up for the NCRC Championships, set for Saturday, April 19, also at Vancouver Lake.

Complete Results
Daffodil Cup at American Lake Tacoma, Wash.
Willamette defeated arch rival Lewis & Clark in three races at the Daffodil Cup

Willamette defeated arch rival Lewis & Clark in three races at the Daffodil Cup