Soaring across Sarasota waters

SPU rowing crew cruises into sixth place at NCAA Championships

Uriah Aguon, Staff Writer

The SPU Varsity Eight loads the boat at a previous event. (Rio Giancarlo)

As an athlete, the big game is at the end of the season. Every move during practice and in training leads up to that moment. The moment when they are standing on the precipice of a championship trophy or medal is what sports dreams are made of. 

The Seattle Pacific University Falcons’ rowing team competed in the National College Athletics Association Championships held on Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28. This was only the third time in school history that the Falcons competed in the championships. 

At their first NCAA Championships in 2010, the Falcons placed second behind Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals Western Washington. It took the Falcons nine years before they made their second appearance in the championships in 2019, where they placed fourth.

The 2022 NCAA championship consisted of five races: the two heats races, the repechage, the grand and the petite finals. On the morning of Friday, May 27, the six teams competed in heat races to determine those who would compete in the grand final. The top finishers of their heats advanced straight to the grand final while all other teams competed in the repechage races for a last-chance spot in the finals. 

The top two finishers in the repechage races also competed in the grand final, but the rest of the teams competed in the petite final. 

SPU finished second during the first heat of the Varsity Fours with a time of 7:52.78. Embry-Riddle University took first place with a time of 7:37.27, and Thomas Jefferson University took third with a time of 8:11.29.

In the first heat of the Varsity Eights, SPU finished third with a time of 6:44.25, four seconds after Central Oklahoma’s second-place finish at 7:40.39. Mercyhurst University took first in the heat as they crossed the finish line at a time of 6:47.14. 

While the Falcons did not advance straight into the grand final, they still had a chance to qualify during the repechage races.

The Falcons’ varsity four-boat took full advantage of their second chance in the repechage races and placed in second with a time of 7:52.26. SPU’s varsity eight-boat placed third with a time of 6:53.26. Central Oklahoma took first in the Varsity Fours with a time of 7:44.07. Western Washington University and Embry-Riddle took first and second in the Varsity Eights with respective times of 6:48.02 and 6:50.61.

Due to the Falcons’ second-place ranking in the Varsity Fours repechage race, they advanced to the grand final of the Varsity Fours, where they finished in fourth place for the second time since 2019. Their final time was 8:10.22

Mercyhurst took first place with a time of 7:47.46; Embry-Riddle finished second with a time of 7:49.64 and Central Oklahoma finished third with a time of 7:55.40.

The races on Saturday, May 28, for the varsity eight-boat races were postponed two hours past their original start time due to weather warnings of thunderstorms which never arrived. The Falcons’ varsity eight-boat finished second in the petite final with a time of 7:02.32 behind Central Oklahoma, who finished at 7:00.38.

The Falcons’ four-boat seated sophomore Megan Poplielak, freshman Kristen Grassell, senior Avalon Tarbet-Mendoza, and freshman Audrey Rekedal. Junior coxswain Moxie McCandless led the Varsity Four crew. 

The eight-boat seated senior Jennifer Hoag, junior Macie Leach, junior Jacinta Grandel, sophomore Natalie Korolenko, sophomore Elise Arkills, junior Kalais Samuelson, senior Danielle Johnson, and sophomore Hannah Miller. They were led by senior LeeAnn Arrington, who served as coxswain.

The final team standings of the NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing Championships placed SPU in sixth place with 9 points overall. The NCAA Championship winners from Mercyhurst University gained a total of 30 points throughout the championship regatta, which was 11 points higher than the second-place crew from Western Washington who scored 19 points.