By Sam Taylor
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Pioneer Crew closed out their 2011 campaign Sunday with three finals at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, placing two crews into the top 5. With warm temperatures and fast conditions the Pioneers were involved in three tight, competitive races.
The Pioneer Men's Varsity Four finished fourth in the grand final in a very hard fought and fast race won by Seattle Pacific University. 2nd place went to UC Santa Barbara, third to Western Washington. Caught down off the start, the Pioneers fought through the whole course to close the gap and made it to within two seats of WWU before running out of room on the line.
The Pioneer Women's Varsity Eight competed in the Division II,III, and club Varsity Eight which proved to be a near repeat of the NCRC Champioinships final, with Orange Coast College taking up the sixth place spot. Like at NCRC race, Western Washtington established an early lead and distanced themselves from the race behind, with Puget Sound, Humboldt, and Seattle Pacific all holding the 2nd place position at some point. Finding themselves down, the Pioneers pushed hard with 700 to go and pulled back almost a full length to finish just two seats down on Puget Sound. At the finish line it was Western, Seattle Pacific, Humboldt, Puget Sound, and Lewis & Clark in 5th. The Pioneers matched their finish place from last year but went almost 26 seconds faster, a testimonial to the speed of the field.
The Men's Varsity Eight competed in the third final for places 13-16, finishing 2nd behind Sonoma State and ahead of Wilamette and Pacific Lutheran, and placing 14th overall,
Four Pioneer seinors concluded their rowing careers Sunday. Andrew Wood raced in both the men's eight and four, while Ruthie Ditzler, Helen Burkart, and Sarah Jackson raced in the women's eight.
"What a great, competitive day for Pioneer Crew," said Head Coach Sam Taylor, "Our crews stepped up to the plate to race in some pretty amazingly fast finals and the crew as a whole represented Lewis & Clark tremendously well."