March 10, 2010
The 2009-10 season will be a resiliency test for the Washington State University women's rowing team, after the 2008-09 team fell short of a bid to the NCAA Championships, where the program has competed five times in the past eight years.
The Cougars ranked in the top 25 of the CRCA/U.S. Rowing national poll through much of the 2008-09 season, climbing as high as 12th. The spring featured matchups with five ranked teams, including Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon State and Washington. The campaign was highlighted by the varsity eight nearly edging out Washington and Michigan, and the second varsity eight defeating Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon State. The team ultimately finished sixth at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships.
With a total of 24 upperclassmen on the roster, WSU is equipped with the experience and leadership to return to the top of the Pac-10 in 2010. This year's spring schedule will provide numerous opportunities to prepare for the championship season by competing against Pac-10 foes Washington (third at 2009 Pac-10 Championships) and Oregon State (fourth at 2009 Pac-10 Championships), as well as racing at the Lake Natoma Invite, where an array of Pac-10 teams will participate. In the end, head coach Jane LaRiviere's goal is to compete with the best in the country and return to the NCAA Championships, which WSU will host in 2010 in Gold River, Calif.
"The measuring stick is always the NCAAs," LaRiviere said. "Most members of the team have tasted it and want to get back there. They know that's the culmination, the peak of why we do what we do. You want to get to where your own Olympics are. That's the crescendo."
With nine seniors on the varsity squad to lead the way, LaRiviere believes her team has the makeup to bounce back to championship form.
"For the first time in a couple years we are a mature team," LaRiviere said. "We are going to be able to count on a lot of great senior leadership."
"I see a broad base of leadership, with Erica Lewis (London, Ontario), Kyann Martin (Camas, Wash.), Hannah Rothstrom (Spokane, Wash.), Irena Neffeova (Prague, Czech Republic) and Erika Jorgensen (Orland, Calif.)," LaRiviere said. "We also look for senior leadership from our coxswain Corina Chilibeck (Victoria, British Columbia)."
Lewis earned Pac-10 All-Conference honors and CRCA All-West Region First Team accolades in 2009. Also highly decorated, Neffeova became only the second WSU rower to earn First Team CRCA All-America honors (2008). Other seniors include Johanna Gerig (Corvallis, Mont.), Danya Levesque (Auburn, Calif.) and Katie Wollstein (Olympia, Wash.).
Not to be outdone, the junior class features 15 student-athletes who return to add depth and consistency at the varsity level. At the core of the Cougars' solid junior class are Natasha Ostopovich (Sydenham, Ontario), Sarah Wolff (Auckland, New Zealand) and Christina Kinck (Oslo, Norway). Also in competition for spots on the varsity boats are Liz Beck (Ridgefield, Wash.), Annie Eastwood (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Justine Galbraith (Fonthill, Ontario), Lauren Johnson (Tigard, Ore.), Tamara Jonoubeh (Millbrae, Calif.), Cayla Ravancho (Olympia, Wash.), Corinna Sharick (Burlington, Wash.), Rachel McNeil (Deer Park, Wash.), and redshirt juniors Crystal Martin (Renton, Wash.) and Marina Morshead (Suquamish, Wash.) and Sarah Powell (North Saanich, British Columbia).
"We have a couple of transfers who have a chance at making an impact," LaRiviere said. "Lisa Roman is one who is on pace to do some really great things for us."
A transfer from University of the Fraser Valley, junior Lisa Roman (Langley, British Columbia) participated with Cougar teammates Sarah Powell and Katie Dick at the 2009 Canada Games, and took home two gold medals for British Columbia. Sophomore Jessica Start (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), who is transferring from University of Saskatchewan, competed in the 2009 Canada Games earning a bronze medal in the women's eight for Saskatchewan.
The sophomore class is also highlighted by returners Katie Dick (Victoria, British Columbia), Ann Hoag (Bellingham, Wash.), and coxswain Lexi Ryman (Snohomish, Wash.). Rounding out the sophomore class are Liz England (Richlands, Va.), Rachel Johnson (University Place, Wash.), Kelsey Lounsbury (Yakima, Wash.), Kasia Rademacher (Hermiston, Ore.) and Leah Smith (Seattle, Wash.).
LaRiviere is excited about developing this year's freshmen class. The freshmen include Liana DeMaris (Snohomish, Wash.), Kaitlan Foster (Arlington, Wash.), Josie Lallemand (Marysville, Wash.), Allie Reilly (San Diego, Calif.), Alison Smith (Carmichael, Calif.) and coxswain Heidi Kim (Cottage Grove, Ore.).
In the fall of 2009 the Cougar varsity squad defeated Gonzaga twice, once in Spokane and once on its home course at Wawawai Landing. In its final fall contest, WSU's varsity eight and second varsity eight finished second, behind host Washington at the Head of the Lake. Now, after a winter full of training and preparation, the Cougars are poised to return to the front of the Pac-10 in 2010.