Another season has come and gone for the WWU Men’s Rowing Team, with the NCRC and WIRA championships behind them.
The Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference (NCRC) Championships on Lake Stevens began with a dissapointing finish for the Vikings in the Varsity 8 race. Faced with a season-ending injury from 7 seat Brandon Heller, a last minute lineup change left the Vikings a few seats down from Conference Champions Lewis And Clark. The Vikings were similarly defeated by Lewis and Clark in other Varsity Events, including the Varsity 4+, LW4+ and JV4+.
The clear standouts of the regatta for the Vikings were the 2010-2011 novice team. The freshmen dominated the N8+ category, storming the field at the 1000m mark and earningan open water victory over previously undefeated Humboldt State. Their dominant performance earned them a nomination for Row2k’s “Crew Of The Week” competition, in which the Vikings placed 4th.
The next week, the men fielded two boats, a Varsity 4 and Novice 4, at the WIRA Championships in Rancho Cordova, California. After both crews took first place in their respective heats and earned the fastest time of the day, the Vikings were confident heading into the finals. The novice 4 earned a silver medal, narrowly losing to a strong UC Davis Crew that the Vikings had defeated the day before. The Varsity 4+, after winning by several lengths of open water the previous day, were surprised to find themselves in the bronze medal position on the podium.
Despite not coming home with gold, both crews achieved their goals of coming home with a medal in a large and very competitive regatta including many top west coast schools.
This year, the vikings were also lucky enough to secure a spot int he Open 8+ category of the 25th Windemere Cup through Montlake Cut in Seattle. Celebrating the opening day of Boating Season in Seattle, The Windemere Cup has been a celebrated Regatta featuring some of the best crews in the world. This year featured crews from Stanford and Cambridge University.
The Vikings stayed strong to finish 4th in the Open 8+ category, narrowly defeated by Pocock Rowing Center and boats from WSU and UW.
As the season ends, the WWU Men’s Crew reflect on the past year, one with many positive changes. With a completely new coaching staff, the Vikings have built the team to be a strong competitor in the conference and among West Coast Small Colleges as a whole. WIRAs featured strong, medal finishes against big name college crews.
Perhaps the biggest and most promising part of the season, however, is the success of the Freshmen. Dominating their conference by open water, the novice class consistently demonstrated their superiority and potential. By the year’s end, The Varsity 8+ included four powerful novice rowers. Among these is freshman Joe Gregerson, who said in an interview with The Western Front, “(This year) I had the most fun I’ve ever had on a sports team. It’ll be my sport for the next four years.”
The future looks bright for the Vikings. The amount of work, pain and passion the Men’s Rowers have gone through this year has brought them closer together than ever. Even as the boathouse closes up for the summer, the rowers don’t despair, because the brotherhood that is strengthened each morning on Lake Whatcom does not only exist on the water. Of course, the rowers must say goodbye and go their seperate ways as the season ends, and one lone senior, Jeff Nesbitt , will say goodbye forever. But however long the farewell, all are left with the implicit understanding that the friendships, strength and lessons from rowing will last a lifetime. The relationship to this team, one that exists and flourishes without outside help, that lives and dies with its members, is one that can’t be broken. A rower once, a rower forever, long after you’re done pulling an oar.
For the rest of us, its farewell until next Fall, when we tie in, count down and push off once more…