Western Washington wins all four of its races to win WIRA Conference title
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. -- In one of the finest overall performances in its history, all four of Western Washington's entries had gold medal winning efforts Sunday at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championship Regatta held at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma. WWU's Varsity 8 won its third consecutive WIRA gold and the fourth in five seasons.
The Vikings, ranked No. 1 nationally, won final heats in the Varsity 4, Novice 4, Junior Varsity 8 and Varsity 8 races.
Coupled with winning all four of its qualifying heats on Saturday, WWU was a perfect 8-for-8 at the meet. Its four gold medals matched the school record set in 2009.
"Everybody is progressing and we saw some good racing," WWU coach John Fuchs said. "Everyone went home with a gold medal, what more can you ask for?"
The performance also went a long ways towards securing a berth for the Vikings as the West Region representative at the NCAA national championships.
The Vikings had four rowers named all-WIRA. Selected to the first team were two Varsity 8 rowers, No. 2 seat Claire Marine and bow Christine Henie. Picked to the second team were Junior Varsity 8 bow Rebecca Newby and Varsity 4 stroke Audra Massey.
WWU's top boat was clocked in 7:00.1 during the 2,000-meter course, edging out UC San Diego (7:00.9) by 0.8 seconds in a race that had seven entries. Humboldt State was fourth.
"The race was close all the way down," Fuchs said. "It was back and forth the whole way and we had a good sprint at the end."
The Junior Varsity 8 win also was the third conseutive for the Vikings at the WIRA regatta. They won by almost seven seconds against UC Santa Barbara. Just three seconds separated the second, third and fourth-place finishers.
"They led from start to finish and really went to work," Fuchs said. "With only one freshman, that's a pretty experienced boat."
WWU's Varsity 4, which won for the third time in five years, was able to beat out runner-up Humboldt State by just under two seconds. The Novice 4 won by nearly three seconds against second-place Saint Mary's (Calif.).
"The Varsity 4 got out to a little lead and held off a great challenge by Humboldt State," Fuchs said. "The Novice 4 had a similar type of race, inching out and hanging on."