Rowing cruises to second place in GNAC

Falcons narrowly lose to Western Washington rivals

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

The SPU Varsity Eight, comprised of senior Jennifer Hoag, junior Macie Leach, junior Jacinta Grandel, sophomore Natalie Korolenko, senior Danielle Johnson, junior Kalais Samuelson, sophomore Hannah Miller, and senior LeeAnn Arrington launches before the Cascade Cup last week. (Rio Giancarlo)

The Seattle Pacific University rowing team took to the water of Dexter Lake in Lowell, Oregon for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, May 15. The Falcons faced off against the three other GNAC rowing teams from The University of Central Oklahoma, Cal Poly Humboldt and Western Washington University in three challenging races to the finish line. 

SPU came up second in all three races including the Varsity Open Four Exhibition, the Varsity Four, and the Varsity Eight. 

In the Varsity Open Four Exhibition, the Falcon crew was steered by novice coxswain junior Jessica Vester and propelled by fellow novices sophomore Megan Rouse, freshman Addie Clark, freshman Ingrid Erickson and varsity junior Sophie Sandahl. The crew became the runner-ups to the winning rowers from Central Oklahoma, who clocked a time of 8:08.39. 

SPU completed the race 12 seconds after Central Oklahoma with a time of 8:20.08. No points were received by any teams following this race and it did not affect any of the teams’ scores for the day. 

As the Varsity Four and Varsity Eight races approached, the Falcons knew they had to keep their resilient attitudes if they wanted to collect enough points to come out of the regatta with a successful performance. Fortunately, this is exactly what they did. 

Although the Falcons were not the top-seeded crew of the weekend, that did not stop them from proving everyone wrong. Going into the weekend, Central Oklahoma was projected to dominate the competition as the defending conference champions but that was not the case, especially not in the Varsity Eight. 

SPU had boat alignment issues at the beginning of the race, resulting in a slow and discouraging start for the Falcons. However, the crew took that setback and pushed themselves harder to pass up not only Cal Poly Humboldt at the 1,500-meter marker, but also Central Oklahoma. The race soon turned into a furious battle to cross the finish line first between SPU and rivals Western Washington. 

At the end of the 2,000-meter race, Western Washington won the race with a time of 7.03.43, but SPU came in an extremely close second. The Falcons lost by only one second as they crossed the finish line in 7.04:43. 

The Varsity Eight crew was helmed by senior LeeAnn Arrington while senior Jennifer Hoag sat in the stroke seat. The rest of the boat was occupied by junior Macie Leach, sophomore Natalie Korolenko, junior Jacinta Grandel, junior Kalais Samuelson, senior Danielle Johnson and sophomore Hannah Miller. 

The Varsity Four race began in the same sluggish fashion as the Varsity Eight for the Falcons, but they quickly recovered and battled their way across the water to move into their third second-place finish of the weekend. The SPU crew directed by junior coxswain Moxie McCandless finished the race at 8:05.96. Central Oklahoma won the race by an 11-second margin and with a time of 7:54.95. 

Despite this victory, Central Oklahoma was not able to best SPU in the final rankings. The Falcons were painfully close to the GNAC title and only lost to new champions from Western Washington by one point. Western Washington ended the regatta with 26 points and SPU had 25. 

As of Monday, May 16 at 2 pm, the SPU rowing team has qualified for the NCAA Championships. The Falcons will place their oars in the water for the last time this season and battle against five other teams on Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28 in Sarasota, Florida for the honor of calling themselves NCAA champions.