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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Women’s rowing ranked No. 1 in NCAA

By Alison Eddy

As spring quarter starts, the 2017-18 athletics season is wrapping up with track and field, men’s and women’s golf, women’s softball and women’s rowing.

So far this year, the athletic program has seen success with a number of teams. The volleyball team and women’s soccer team advanced to the regional finals, men’s basketball made it to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference semifinals and women’s basketball won their 1,000th game this year.

Western’s women’s rowing team has potential to continue the successes of Western teams after being named the No. 1 team in the first Division II coaches’ poll of the season. The women’s rowing team has a history of winning with seven national championships stretching from 2005-2011, and another last year.

Senior Chloe Burns sits in the stroke seat on the No. 1-ranked NCAA Division II Western women’s rowing team this year. // Photo courtesy of WWU Rowing

Senior Trisha Patterson is a fourth-year rower on the women’s rowing team. According to her, the team’s success comes from, “our willingness to row not only for ourselves but for each other.”

The women’s rowing team is a sweep rowing team, which means each person in the boat has one oar and work in a pair. Patterson said the entire boat has to row as one and there isn’t any position that is more important than the other.

Patterson has been rowing since high school and along with other sports she has participated in, she said it was always understood, “Oh, you’re a girl and you’re doing sports. That’s cute.”

She said that while the women’s team can’t row as fast as the men’s varsity eight, they work just as hard and train just as hard as the men’s team.

“A lot of my experience has been living up to expectations and also proving expectations wrong,” Patterson said.

She has heard comments like the aforementioned, and one comment in particular referred to a male lifting a certain amount of weight as lifting like a girl.

While she is frustrated by that comment and others like it, she also said Damien Fisher, the strength and conditioning coach, really cares about what goes on in his weight room. She said he is working on creating an equal environment for both men and women inside and outside of the weight room.

Director of Athletic Communications Jeff Evans said he has been at some of Western’s practices at 5 a.m. on Lake Samish and often they are wearing headlamps and rowing in freezing temperatures.

“It’s not just powerful, they all have to be in synchronization and they are doing it as hard as they can,” Evans said.

Evans promotes and publicizes athletic events through communications such as websites, articles and social media.

He said one of the goals of the athletic department is to make the best student-athlete experience possible at Western.

“We are kind of the eyes, the ears and the voice of Western Athletics,” Evans said.

He also said the athletic department focuses on supporting the athletes on the field and in the classroom.

“A lot of our 300-plus athletes are not going pro,” Evans said “They’re getting their degree and they’re graduating and they’re entering the workforce.”

The women’s rowing team most recently took first place at the Varsity 8+ race of the Husky Open on Montlake Cut in Seattle on Saturday, March 31. The team completed the 2,000-meter course in 7 minutes, 8.935 seconds defeating Seattle Pacific University (7:13.079) and the University of Washington (7:20.849).

Led by sophomore coxswain Jonah Bettger and senior All-American Chloe Burns in the stroke seat, the Vikings powered through a strong second half of the race to record the 5-second victory over SPU.

“It was a fun day for sure as UW is always a great host,” head coach John Fuchs said in a university press release. “The 1V was able to finish strong, netting them the overall medal for the 1V event. Anytime we can do that against a Washington crew, Portland and Seattle U., we will take it.”

The women’s crew team doesn’t have any home races, but they have races in Seattle on April 14 and May 5.

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