Women’s Rowing Team Makes Waves in Northwest Conference
Women’s rowing dominated the Northwest Conference (NWC) en route to the program’s first NWC Title and the program’s first trip to the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championship Regatta since 2006.
Lewis & Clark women’s rowing put together one of their strongest seasons in program history this past spring.
L&C’s women rowers dominated the Northwest Conference (NWC) en route to the program’s first NWC title and the program’s first trip to the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championship Regatta since 2006. At the end of the season, Head Coach Sam Taylor and Lead Assistant Coach Claudia Loeber were named the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Division III Pacific Region Coaches of the Year.
“The team this year—both the men’s and women’s squads—really elevated their work ethic and commitment to each other,” Taylor said. “We could see this energy from mid-fall on … they were much more invested in our process, our training, and our racing. That’s what it takes to succeed in this sport—a lot of unglamorous grind in the winter and really being dedicated to making slow, incremental improvements over the long haul.”
In their first regatta of the spring, Lewis & Clark traveled to American Lake in Tacoma, Washington, to take on the other three NWC schools with rowing teams. Lewis & Clark swept the competition at the Logger Invitational, including defeating six-time defending NWC Champions Pacific Lutheran University’s varsity 8+ boat for the first time since 2015. That success would be a harbinger of things to come.
Lewis & Clark’s second varsity boat (2V8+), which included five novice walk-on’s this spring, won every race they competed in against NCAA Division III teams during the regular season. In their third regatta of the spring, they defeated eventual Division II National Champion Cal Poly Humboldt in a head-to-head race at the Covered Bridge Regatta.
Lewis & Clark headed into the Northwest Conference Championship Regatta as the favorites, with the University of Puget Sound standing as their biggest competition. The 2V8+ opened the day with a dominant win over Pacific Lutheran by nearly 30 seconds. In the second race of the day, the L&C varsity eight (1V8+) came from behind in the final 250 meters (2,000-meter race) to edge Puget Sound by just over .50 seconds. With the NWC Title already wrapped up, Lewis & Clark swept the final two races, winning both the Novice/JV 4+ and Varsity 4+ races. By the end of the day, Lewis & Clark had won all four women’s team races.
A week later, Lewis & Clark punched their ticket to Nationals at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championships in Sacramento. The varsity 8+ won the Petite Final (five boats that didn’t qualify for the Grand Final) and the 2V8+ finished third overall in the Grand Final, becoming just the second 8+ boat in program history to medal at the WIRA Championships.
Racing at Nationals for the first time since 2006, both L&C boats won the Petite Finals. In the 2V8+ race, the Pioneers went head-to-head with Washington College (Maryland) and defeated the Shorewomen by over 18 seconds. The varsity 8+ boat took to the water next and downed Washington College by over 10 seconds. Lewis & Clark finished seventh overall, out of eight teams, to cap off a tremendous season.
“Winning the conference and getting the NCAA bid was a huge reward for all the hard work the team put in,” Taylor noted. “For our group that competed in the NCAAs, I think there was a growth in understanding about what’s possible at the DIII level. They got to see the quality at the top of the field, and hopefully they’re excited about doing this again … maybe even taking the next step of getting into the final.”
Lewis & Clark women’s rowing is expected to return 24 members from this year’s squad next year, including 14 of the 18 student-athletes who competed at Nationals. All-Conference honorees Sophia Pitre and Lily Johnson will help lead the team after logging stellar years rowing for the 1V8+ boat.