Rowing wins varsity eight race for the first time since ?06

Rowing varsity eight:Sacramento State?s varsity eight boat rows during the final title race on Sunday at Lake Natoma. Sac State won the race with a time of 6:56.5.:Robert Linggi State Hornet


Rowing varsity eight:Sacramento State?s varsity eight boat rows during the final title race on Sunday at Lake Natoma. Sac State won the race with a time of 6:56.5.:Robert Linggi State Hornet

Matt Harrington

Sacramento State’s bid for a Western Intercollegiate Rowing Championship fell short on Sunday.

The Hornet women had great hopes after day one, as they were able move six boats into the next round. The team was in search of its fourth WIRA title in five years.

The Hornets settled for a second-place finish overall in the Division I section as University of SanDiego took first place.

Humboldt State University took the overall points title for the weekend’s competition, racing as a Division IIschool.

Humboldt State head coach Robin Meiggs said winning was a great surprise to the program.

“This is truly unexpected for us. It is overwhelming and it has been an amazing year for our team,” she said. “This year has been a culmination of many practices and the time and energy that has been spent by the rowers leading up to this point.”

The women’s varsity eight, novice eight and pair finished first or second in their heats. The only boat that did not make it into the next day was the women’s novice four. The team finished third, behind San Diego. However, the novice four came back later in the day to win the Petite final 14 seconds ahead of Cal.

In the varsity eight qualifier, Sac State finished second behind Gonzaga. In the novice eight qualifier, the Hornets finished in first place. In the pair boat, Sac State finished second.

Head coach Mike Connors felt the team had a great first day at the championships after qualifying three of four boats.

“The novice four had a tough heat but they came back to win the petite final, which is the best you can do without winning the grand final,” he said. “Even when you race in the petite final you pick up team points, so that was important for us.”

Connors said the novice eight rowed well, as it came in first with a time of 7:23.2.

The weather conditions for Saturday’s race were less than ideal, as a moderate breeze wreaked havoc on the competitors, making it difficult to keep the boats in a straight line. This was a common theme that would be played out on Sunday, as the wind picked up dramatically, capsizing a Seattle Pacific University boat in the middle of competition.

The Hornets saw their opportunity for a WIRA Championship slip away slowly Sunday as two of their six boats won their respective divisions.

Sac State took third place in the varsity four grand final. In the pair grand final, the Hornets finished in fourth place.

It would get worse before it got better. The Hornets finished fourth behind Gonzaga. Sac State faced the Bulldogs in the second varsity eight grand final. The Hornets finished fourth behind Gonzaga, who won the novice eight grand final.

It was not all bad for the women as they were able to win two out the six finals. For the novice lightweight four division, Sac State held off Cal to win by just 0.6 seconds.

And in the grand final for the varsity eight division, the Hornets beat their nearest competitor San Diego by three seconds to win their first varsity eight title since 2006 and their fourth in 11 years.

The varsity eight grand final is one of the most prestigious races in the entire tournament.

Senior Kellie Cook said she was happy for the team’s win.

“We are overwhelmed with excitement. It was one of those things that we were trying to do, but when it actually happens it is really cool,” Cook said. “Since I have been here, we haven’t been able to do that. Last year we got silver so we were really close. We are just overcome by excitement, with a few of us going out in our senior year.”

Connors said in years past, the varsity eight has not always won the event when it won the overall team title.

“I was pretty happy for the varsity and the seniors. They put a lot of work into this season. It came together at the right time,” he said. “The level of competition this year was high with the San Diego, UC Davis and Gonzaga in the field. We were able to put everything together at the right time.”

Matt Harrington can be reached at [email protected]