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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Vikings rowing look to future after missing nationals

For the first time in 13 years, the Western women’s rowing team have not been selected to compete in the NCAA Division II National Rowing Championship.

The decision came Monday, May 18, during a selection show streamed on ncaa.org.

Senior Maeghan Callegari, team captain, said the selection process is complicated, but is based on how competitive the selection committee believes each team will be.

“It hurts,” Callegari said. “That’s definitely not the decision we were looking for, but in no way would I say that we had a bad season.”

At the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships, Western’s Varsity 8 placed third behind two Stanford University entries. Western’s strong finish was not enough to sway the selection committee in its favor.

Prior to that, Western’s Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 entries placed third at the Windermere Cup as well.

Prior to the selection, Western was ranked seventh in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA II National Poll.

Sophomore Jenny Chang said she felt the team still had more to offer if given the chance to compete at championships.

“I realize now that I just have to come back next year with a different mentality to come and kick some ass,” Chang said.

Western’s rowing team has been a national powerhouse for well over a decade. In the 14-year history of the event, Western never placed worse than third. From 2005 to 2011, Western won seven national titles in a row.

Head coach John Fuchs said he was still waiting to get more details on the selection committee’s decision and declined to comment further on the matter.

The Vikings lost several of its seniors last year, which left some big holes for the team to fill this year, senior Katey Sullivan said.

“We had a pretty young team this year,” Sullivan said. “We have a lot of growing to do.”

Of the 27 women on the team, there were only four seniors and two juniors. All others were underclassmen.

Callegari said the team has a lot to be proud of.  Despite the outcome of the season, and there are plenty of positive things to focus on, she said.

“We got better every race,” Callegari said. “Even the races we didn’t win, we could see improvements.”

With such a young team, there’s still a lot to learn and a lot to improve on, Sullivan said.  She said next year the younger rowers are more likely to be stricter and push themselves to reach their goals.

“They know what that disappointment tastes like now,” Sullivan said. “They’re going to work harder to avoid that.”

Chang said the team needs work on trusting each other more.

“In the boat, it’s important that you trust that everyone is pushing as much as you are,” Chang said.

Callegari is confident the team will be back at the national championship if the rowers continue to improve.

“If they are strict with themselves, go to all the practices and put in the effort to improve, I’m sure they’ll be back at nationals,” Callegari said.

The team worked hard from the beginning of the season and will continue to improve through next year, Fuchs said.

“It’s going to be fun,” Fuchs said. “We’re going to have a good year.”

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