Women’s Rowing Inch Closer To The Top
UCO’s 8+ boat competes in a race. The team finished in first at the rowing national championships. (Provided/ UCO Athletics).
The Women’s Rowing team of UCO placed runner-up in the NCAA Division II Rowing Championship for the second year in a row, coming up one point shy of Western Washington’s 17 points on the final day.
The Lady Bronchos were four points away in the 2016 Championships, as they inch closer towards the ever-fleeting National Championship.
“The way they [the team] finished as a team,” Head Coach Montia Rice said was what he was most proud of. “Our sport is a little different, even though they aren’t all together in the race,” Rice added. “They are all out there trying to achieve the same thing.”
The racing format consisted of four teams with a four woman team and an eight woman team, along with two at-large teams in the 8s race.
UCO fell behind early as the four woman team, led by Baylee Roberts, placed third in their third race in as many days, securing four points for the Lady Bronchos.
“They were able to regather themselves going into the second day,” Rice said. As the 4s struggled at first, they bounced back to qualify for the last day. “That was our main focus, get to the finals and see what happens,” He added.
Western Washington finished first to capture eight points, while Mercyhurst came in second to claim six points.
Bravo to UCO Rowing team as NCAA DII national runner up! Our “8s” win in their category. UCO is proud of our coaches and these athletes.
— Don Betz (@DonBetz) May 29, 2017
The eight woman race concluded the final day of competition. With the Lady Bronchos sitting in third overall; it was a neck-and-neck battle on the water. Then, UCO made a late push, soaring to a first place time of 6:58.51 and awarding the team a full 12 points. Bringing the overall score to 16.
“They got their confidence heading into nationals after winning the programs first major race,” Rice said. “Which pushed them over the edge and gave them the confidence to go and win.”
Western Washington was able to come in second, adding nine more points for a total of 17 on the day.
The Lady Bronchos look to continue their work heading into next season, only losing four rowers.
“It’s exciting looking forward to what’s going to happen,” Rice said.
UCO will have a rare combination of youth and experience next season.
“It’s going to pay off for the incomers,” Rice said. “They will be able to walk right in and see the way it needs to go to win.”
For the program to have another finish like 2017, means to continue what is being built.
“One of our big goals for next year is to continue the stability and success of the program, both on and off the water,” Rice said.
Lady Bronchos Rowing finished towards the top of the nation in the classroom as well. In late May Britney Baker, Trista Cripe, Erica Mitchell, and Maddie O’Brien were named Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar-Athletes. Cripe also received the NCAA Elite 90 Award, going to the student-athlete with the highest GPA entering the National Championships.
In mid June, the Lady Bronchos also expect to have their tenth All-American in just six years selected.
“They work their tails off on and off the water,” Rice said emphatically.
The Lady Bronchos return in the fall to begin their next season and attempt to reach the top of Division II Rowing for the first time.