Willamette Reaches Grand Final in Women's Varsity Eight+ at WIRA

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

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. -- The Willamette University women's varsity eight+ has advanced into the grand final at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championship Regatta at Lake Natoma near Sacramento, Calif. Willamette placed third in the first heat on Saturday, May 2, as the Bearcats from NCAA Division III trailed only the NCAA Division II crews from Western Washington University and Seattle Pacific University.

Western Washington won the heat in 6:57.1, with Seattle Pacific next at 7:00.5 and Willamette in third at 7:02.4. Rounding out the race were the University of California-Santa Barbara in fourth at 7:12.1, Pacific Lutheran University in fifth at 7:18.6, Mills College in sixth at 7:27.8 and Arizona State University in seventh at 7:42.9.

The top three crews from each of two heats advanced to the grand final, scheduled for Sunday, May 3. The second heat was won by the University of Puget Sound in 6:58.8, with Orange Coast College in second at 7:04.1 and Humboldt State University in third at 7:07.7. The WV8+ featured a total of 14 entries.

When the grand final of the WV8+ gets underway, the top four teams from the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference (NCRC) will battle each other as they have throughout the spring season.

All four crews are nationally ranked. Western Washington is #2 and Seattle Pacific is #5 in NCAA Division II. Puget Sound is #5 and Willamette is #8 in NCAA Division III.

Willamette claimed second place in the grand final of the women's lightweight eight+, which was contested on Saturday. The University of California took first place in 7:06.6, with WU following at 7:16.8. Third place went to Santa Clara University at 7:20.8, with the University of California-Irvine in fourth at 7:256.1, Humboldt State in fifth at 7:40.7 and the University of California-San Diego in sixth at 7:56.1.

The Bearcats also earned a spot in Sunday's grand final in the women's lightweight four+. WU was third in the first heat behind WWU at 7:58.4 and PLU at 8:18.1. Willamette completed the race in 8:21.0, while Humboldt State was fourth at 8:27.5 and UC-San Diego was fifth at 8:53.0.

Advancing to the grand final from the second heat were California (7:52.3), Long Beach State University (8:20.6) and UC-Irvine (8:20.6).

Willamette claimed fourth place in the third final for the women's novice eight+. UCSD took first in the third final at 7:35.7, with Santa Clara in second at 7:42.9, Sonoma State University in third at 7:48.4, Willamette fourth at 7:52.8, Cal-Irvine in fifth at 7:55.2 and Seattle University in sixth at 8:22.3.

The Bearcat men's varsity four+ was second in the third final in 7:04.1, just four-tenths of a second behind the winner, UC-San Diego, which finished the course in 7:03.7. Humboldt State was third at 7:15.4 and the University of California-Davis was fourth at 7:29.3.

Most of the races on Saturday were completed under rainy conditions. Action will continue at the WIRA Championships on Sunday at 8 a.m. (PDT). The WL4+ grand final is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., with the WV8+ grand final set to start at 11:50 a.m.

WIRA Championships
Lake Natoma
Sacramento, Calif.
Head Coach Susan Parkman meets with members of the WV8+ prior to a race earlier this season.

Head Coach Susan Parkman meets with members of the WV8+ prior to a race earlier this season.