(RV) Bulldogs Making Third-Straight Trip To NCAA Championships
May 24, 2017
WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – The (RV) Gonzaga Bulldogs are heading back to the NCAA Championships for the third-straight year and fourth time in program history after their third-straight West Coast Conference Championship on May 13.
The Bulldogs won their third-straight West Coast Conference Championship with their second three-race sweep in program history on Saturday, May 13, on Lake Natoma just outside of Sacramento. The Bulldogs claimed their 16th WCC Championship in program history and the performance tied the best in school history, as they swept the varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four races for the first time since 2008.
Gonzaga head coach Glenn Putyrae was named the WCC Coach of the Year for the third-straight time and eighth time overall. Freshman Alexa Jadallah was named the WCC Coxswain of the Year after leading GU to victory in the varsity eight race. Freshman Caroline Maguire was tabbed the newcomer of the year, rowing with GU’s top crew this season. Micailah Donner, Olivia Marsh, Meghan McCallum, and Isabelle Belzil were all named All-WCC, as all four were named Preseason All-WCC. All four rowed with GU’s top crew this season and are all first time All-WCC selections.
The Zags are receiving votes in the latest CRCA/US Rowing Coaches Poll for the fifth week this season and their second varsity eight is ranked sixth in the West region.
The 2017 NCAA Championships will take place on Mercer Lake in Mercer County Park in West Windsor, New Jersey. The event is hosted by the Ivy League and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), on the state-of-the-art, 2,600-acre facility, and the Princeton National Rowing Association operates the Finn M.W. Caspersen Rowing Center located on the shores of Mercer Lake.
The Bulldogs are one of 11 automatic qualifiers in the 22-team field. GU’s varsity eight boat is seeded number 18, their second varsity eight is seeded number 17, and their varsity four crew is seeded number 13.
“With this being our fourth trip in the last five years, we have a lot more experience in knowing what to prepare for,” Gonzaga head coach Glenn Putyrae said. “We aren’t intimidated by the speed of the other boats, we are focused on going as fast as we can and I think it is going to stack up pretty well.”
The Zags recorded their best finish in program history last year at the NCAA Championships on Lake Natoma, finishing 16th overall with 45 points. The varsity eight had their best finish at the event, taking second in the C Final to finish 14th overall. The second varsity eight also had their best finish in NCAA Championships history, taking 16th after finishing fourth in the C Final. The varsity four took 19th after taking first in the D Final.
GU’s top crew will open the 2017 competition on Friday for the Zags in heat number two, joined by No. 2 Cal, No. 3 Michigan, No. 15 Washington State, and No. 13 Iowa at 6:12 am PST. The second varsity eight is in heat number one joined by No. 1 Washington, No. 9 Yale, No. 11 Wisconsin, and No. 15 WSU at 6:48 am PST. The varsity four completes the morning session in heat four against No. 4 Ohio State, No. 9 Yale, No. 15 WSU, Northeastern, and Massachusetts at 8:12 am PST. The boats will then be seeded into repechage races later in the day, with the semifinals to follow on Saturday and the finals on Sunday.
The Bulldogs have competed against every crew in the field this season except Jacksonville, Princeton, Massachusetts, Northeastern, Michigan, Yale, and Iowa. They have competed in heats against Washington, Central Florida, Navy, Texas, Brown, Stanford, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Washington State, Indiana, and Notre Dame. The GU varsity four defeated Washington State in the Fawley Cup this year in Pullman. At the Lake Natoma Invitational in April, GU’s top crew defeated Notre Dame and Central Florida, as the varsity four did the same with the second varsity eight beating UCF. In the Clemson Invitational later in the month, GU’s top crew recorded two wins over Navy, with the second varsity eight beating Navy and UCF, and the varsity four defeating Syracuse, Indiana, and Navy.
Gonzaga has raced in the state of New Jersey five times prior and on Mercer Lake once. The Bulldogs competed in the Avaya Championships on Mercer Lake, May 11-12, in 2002. The varsity eight took second in the grand final, just one second behind Holy Cross and one second faster than Ithaca at 7:06.08. They had defeated Ithaca by one second the day before in their heat to finish first at 6:49.11.
They raced in the Knecht Cup in 2007, 2006, and 2005 on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. The Zags pulled in ahead of Rhode Island in the varsity eight grand final at 6:48.3, six seconds ahead, in 2007. The varsity four also won their grand final race at 7:42.5, three seconds ahead of Lafayette. In 2006, the GU varsity eight finished runner-up to Massachusetts in the grand final at 7:10.8, eight seconds ahead of Villanova and three seconds off the lead. In 2005, the Zags finished fifth ahead of Rhode Island in the grand final at 6:57.0, just two seconds behind fourth-place Marist. The Zags were invited to the ECAC National Rowing Invitational in 2003, also on the Cooper River, winning the varsity eight grand final with a time of 6:56.21, six seconds ahead of New Hampshire.
GU raced in the Head of the Charles in Boston in 2013, taking eighth in the three-mile course at 19:23.707. All three boats defeated George Washington and St. Joseph’s in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2013. The varsity eight had the fastest time at 6:17.50. GU defeated Syracuse in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four races at Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, N.Y. in 2010. Cornell swept all the races and GU’s fastest time from their top crew was 6:26.4. The GU novice eight picked up two wins at the Charles River Challenge in Boston in 2009, beating Northeastern, Boston U, and Radcliffe. They competed in the event in 2008 as well, with all three boats beating Boston U, and the varsity eight beating Syracuse, with the second varsity eight and varsity four beating Northeastern and Syracuse. The varsity four also bested Dartmouth on the second day.
The Zags had set a then-program record with a 17th place overall finish at the NCAA Championships in 2015 with 37 points. The varsity eight finished 15th and the second varsity eight took 19th, both records at the time. The varsity four’s best finish came in 2013, their first appearance, when they took 16th overall and fourth in the C Final. The Zags top crew’s best heat finish was fourth in 2015 and 2016, their best repechage finish was third in those two years, and they took first in the C/D Semifinal last year. The second varsity eight had their best finish of fourth in the heat last year, then fourth in the repechage and second in the C/D Semifinal, all program records. The varsity four took fifth in their heat the last two years, finished sixth in all repechages, and finished second in the 2013 C/D Semifinal. No Gonzaga boat has every raced in an A/B Semifinal or Petite or Grand Final. The varsity eight’s fastest time was 6:24.932, in the C Final last year where they took second. The second varsity eight’s fastest time was in their C Final last year in a fourth place finish at 6:42.390. The varsity four put down their record time in the 2013 C Final at 7:30.280 and finished fourth.
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