May 28, 2010

By James Raia

Special to NCAA.com

GOLD RIVER, Calif.-Western Washington and Williams College have dominated Division II and III competition, respectively, in recent years, and neither have offered evidence that this year's NCAA Women's Rowing championships will be any different.

Western Washington, which has five straight Division II national titles, added to its legacy with ease on Friday at the California State University-Sacramento Aquatics Center.

The Vikings advanced into Sunday finals, winning the second of two varsity eight heats. Last defeated in the NCAA Championships by Mercyhurst in 2004, Western Washington (Bellingham, Wash.) posted the fastest time of the six teams by nearly five seconds, while winning in 6:44.78. Barry was second in 6:55:07, with Philadelphia third in 7:02.08

Mercyhurst claimed the first heat in 6:49.66, with Seattle Pacific, competing in the event as a team for the first time, second in 6:53.1 and Barry third in 6:55.07.

The second and third-place teams in both heats will row tomorrow with the top two finishers advancing to Sunday's grand final.

Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.) has has won four national Division III titles and also its winning ways. The Ephs first varsity eight boat won its heat and advanced into the finals with the fastest time of the day, 6:35:09. Puget Sound (6:54.80) and William Smith (6:58.96) also advanced in the first heat.

Ithaca (6:48.63) won the second heat, followed advancing boats from St. Lawrence (6:55.19) and Wellesley (6:55.34). Bates (6:41.00) took the third heat, followed by Williams (6:42.02) and Trinity (6:47.98).

With Williams' second varsity boat advancing in the afternoon session, The Ephs are likely en route to the fifth straight national team title.

"I've always told the rowers it's about a team, not a boat" said Williams head coach Justin Moore. "It will be nice for the second varsity boat to look across the water and see the other boat. They can completely enjoy themselves."