Willamette Rowing Earns Two Third Place and Two Fourth Place Finishes at WIRA Championships

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

LAKE NATOMA, CALIF. -- The Willamette University rowing teams earned two third place finishes and took fourth place twice during the finals of the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championships, held on Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4 at Lake Natoma near Sacramento, Calif. The competition featured West Coast teams from all three NCAA divisions, as well as collegiate club teams.

WU claimed third place in the women's lightweight eight and the women's novice lightweight four. The Bearcats took fourth place in the women's novice eight and also finished fourth in the women's varsity eight for Division II, Division III and Division I club teams.

In most cases, Willamette went head-to-head with teams from each level of the NCAA. Nearly every event featured five to seven teams in the finals, plus additional teams in the petite finals. Events with the most entries also had third finals. Willamette was the top NCAA Division III finisher in the WLW8, WNLW4, WV4, WV8 (for DII/DIII/and DI club teams) and WN8 events.

"I'm very pleased with how our young teams competed," Head Coach Susan Parkman said. "Especially since 18 out of our 27 women are novice freshmen, and 10 of 13 athletes on the men's side are novice freshmen.

"We are on the right path!," Parkman added. "These regatta results are the most successful we've had since I started coaching at Willamette in the spring of 2006."

In the final of the women's lightweight eight, the University of California-Berkeley Lightweight Crew took first place at 7:16.2 and Loyola Marymount University followed in second with a time of 7:22.2. Willamette was third in 7:42.2. Santa Clara University placed fourth in 7:45.2.

The women's lightweight eight for Willamette was guided by coxswain Linnea Schuster (Fr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School). Rowing for the WLW8 were Kara Hafkey (Fr., Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS), Leslie Schultz (Fr., South Pasadena, CA/South Pasadena HS) at seven seat, Emily Mitchell (So., Vancouver, WA/Columbia River HS) at six seat, Lacey Ellingson (So., Shoreview, MN/Mounds View HS) in the five seat, Ilana Greenslade (Fr., Kennewick, WA/Kamiakin HS) at four seat, Christine Kelly (Fr., Mercer Island, WA/Mercer Island HS) in the three seat, Erica Soma (Fr., Scotts Valley, CA/Scott Valley HS) at two seat and Erika Michelotti (Fr., Los Alamos, NM/Los Alamos HS) at bow.

Willamette finished behind the Cal-Berkeley and Long Beach State University in the finals of the women's novice lightweight four. Cal won at 8:05.0, while Long Beach State was second at 8:10.6 and WU followed in third at 8:17.1. Sacramento State University placed fourth in 8:24.8.

For WU in the WNLW4, rowers were Soma at stroke, Schultz at three seat, Kafkey at two seat and Michelotti at bow. Willamette's coxswain in the event was Greenslade.

The WV8 was won by Seattle Pacific University in 7:12.4. The University of Californa at San Diego was second at 7:13.1, Humboldt State University was third at 7:18.9 and Willamette was fourth at 7:19.5. The Bearcats also rowed well in the preliminaries, earning the fastest time among 11 teams at 6:58.8.

In the WN8, San Diego State University beat the field at 7:11.8. Gonzaga University was second at 7:18.9, with the University of California at Davis in third at 7:21.0. Willamette placed fourth in 7:27.7 to edge Sacramento State University and Orange Coast College, each at 7:29.0.

Willamette had four freshmen who rowed in both the WV8 and the WN8. They were Kesa Sovulewski (Bozeman, MT/Bozeman HS), Fran Clawson (Bozeman, MT/Bozeman HS), Jamaica Sweet (Florence, OR/Siuslaw HS), Geneva Hooten (Vancouver, WA/Mountain View HS).

The women's varsity 4+ from Willamette missed qualifying for the grand final by a mere 1.2 seconds behind the University of San Diego from NCAA Division I. Even so, WU rowed strong in the petite final. UC-Davis won the race in 8:06.5, just 3.5 seconds faster than Willamette at 8:10.0. Orange Coast placed third in 8:18.5 and Seattle Pacific was fourth in 8:21.9. Willamette's crew in the women's varsity pair placed fourth in its heat.

Willamette achieved a third place finish in the petite final of the men's novice four. WU finished in 7:51.4, as the Bearcats trailed only the winners from Loyola Marymount at 7:34.1 and the second place crew from Long Beach State at 7:35.0. UC-Davis was fourth in 7:58.4.

The men's varsity 4+ crew representing the Bearcats was sixth in the petite final at 8:00.5. Willamette was seventh in the petite final of the men's novice eight.

Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships
The Willamette women's novice lightweight 4+ earned bronze medals at the WIRA Championships.

The Willamette women's novice lightweight 4+ earned bronze medals at the WIRA Championships.

Willamette won bronze medals in the women's lightweight eight+ at the WIRA Championships.

Willamette won bronze medals in the women's lightweight eight+ at the WIRA Championships.