WOMEN S ROWING SWEEPS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Dan Richeal
For the third time in program history, the Mercyhurst Women’s Rowing Team emerged as NCAA Division II National Champions. With rowing a split season, the Lakers opened their season in fall of 2021. After hosting their annual regatta at Findley Lake, New York, the Lakers traveled to the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, where the eights team won the first gold medal in program history. Throughout the spring, Mercyhurst was the top-ranked team in the country. After dominating at the Mid-America Collegiate Rowing Association Championships, the Lakers turned their attention to the Dad Vail Championships. With wins at Dad Vail, the Lakers would clinch their spot in the National Championships. The eights team advanced to the finals and was up against a stacked field but prevailed in an impressive time of 6:25.645. Meanwhile, the fours team was forced to scratch due to
an unforeseen event but were still selected to compete in the National Championships because of their impressive regular season. On the first day of National Championships at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida, the eights boat took to the water, looking to be the first team to earn a spot in the final. Central Oklahoma jumped out to an early lead in the first 500 meters but that was the only time they would lead. At the halfway point, the Lakers were leading the pack of three boats by less than a second. Mercyhurst closed it out with a time of 6:37.140 to earn a spot in the final. After two other heats, the Mercyhurst fours boat was in the water. The group of Seanna Zona, Grace Skapura, Emma Lassig, Audrey Smith, and Teagan Spracklen had never raced together before taking to the smooth Sarasota water. Mercyhurst trailed Central Oklahoma and Western Washington most of the race and, at the halfway point, trailed by more than four
seconds. In a historic comeback, the Lakers defeated Central Oklahoma by more than two seconds to advance to the final. On the final race day, the fours were in the water first. In a near repeat of the first race, Mercyhurst crossed the line with a time of 7:47.465 to take the championship for the first-ever fours boat National Championship in program history. Without knowing the result of the fours race, it was the eights turn. In one of the tightest races of all three divisions, the Lakers, Western Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were all within a second of each other at 1500 meters. It came down to the final stroke that pushed the Lakers across the line by .03 of a second to claim the National Championship. The third National Championship win in program history, this is the first time the Lakers swept both the eights and fours at Nationals.
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