The women’s crew team, which competes at the NCAA Division II level, is hoping to return to the national championships for the second straight year. Last season, both the Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 boats finished third at the national championships in Gold River, California.
Junior Hannah Benson is beginning her third season as a rower on the women’s team. Benson said expectations are going to be high this year as the team tries to build off its national championship appearance last season.
“We’ve been training a lot harder this year,” Benson said. “We have more of a drive because we saw what it looked like, we were so close.”
Benson said only two senior rowers from last season’s Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 boats graduated, and competition for spots will be high this year.
“I’ve never raced before. I’m pretty nervous but I’m going to give it all I have.”
Along with plenty of familiar faces, there will be new rowers with varying levels of experience. Junior Kenzie Hezel, a first-year rower for the women’s crew team, said she has only been out on the water for about three weeks.
“I’ve never raced before,” Hezel said. “I’m pretty nervous but I’m going to give it all I have.”
Hezel said that some of the more experienced rowers on the team have given her plenty of tips to help her get ready for her first season.
“I’m very grateful to have made the team,” Hezel said. “It’s a great group of girls to be a part of.”
The women’s crew teams competed in the Island Head Race on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Lake Whatcom, with the women’s varsity 8 boat finishing second.
The next event for the women’s team will be at the Head of the Lake Regatta on Sunday, Nov. 6, on Lake Union in Seattle.
The Western men’s crew team is a club program that competes in the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference, the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association and the American Collegiate Rowing Association.
As a club program, the men’s crew team has to raise money to fund the program. According to the team’s website, it has a program called Rent-a-Rower, where members of the team can be hired to do yard work and manual labor. The money raised is put toward funding travel expenses and purchasing new equipment.
Junior Nick Jensen, who is heading into his third year on the men’s crew team, said last year wasn’t a particularly strong season for the team. Injuries hampered the team, and Head Coach Jack Marolich left the program in the fall after six years at Western.
“Everyone was, more or less, trying to make something out of nothing,” Jensen said.
The men’s crew team is younger this year, but boasts more rowers with prior experience than it has had in past years, according to Jensen.
“With a young group of guys, any race experience is good experience.”
“A lot of the new guys have rowed in high school,” Jensen said. “When I joined the team there were two other guys who had rowed prior to coming to Western.”
While most of the races for men’s and women’s teams take place during the winter, races in the fall provide the new rowers with some experience.
“With a young group of guys, any race experience is good experience,” Jensen said.
The men’s team will compete alongside the women at the Head of the Lake Regatta on Sunday, Nov. 6, on Lake Union in Seattle.