Women's Rowing Spring Outlook

March 20, 2006

The Washington State women's rowing team, ranked ninth in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/U.S. Rowing poll, is back on the water for practices and has no problem setting lofty goals for the upcoming spring season, which starts Saturday, March 25 with a dual regatta at Gonzaga.

Last season, the Cougars missed out on the NCAA Championships for the first time in WSU Head Coach Jane LaRiviere's three-year tenure.

'The goal for the season is to return to the NCAA Championships and have our best race there,' LaRiviere said.

The team has practiced indoors since wrapping up the fall season Nov. 13, when the varsity eight notched its first ever win at the Head of the Lake.

'We've got to build off the success we had in the fall,' LaRiviere said, 'and we have to be careful not to sit back. Having success early can, at times, not be the most motivating thing because you think `I've already done something.''

Strong leadership ensured the team stayed motivated through the long winter training sessions.

'The juniors and seniors are driving the team right now and there are a lot of people who are really doing what they need to do to be successful,' LaRiviere said.

Junior Sarah Waterfield, who rowed the stroke position of the varsity eight in the fall, has emerged as a leader.

'(Waterfield) has a tremendous amount of race experience, and she really has a good feel for what's happening in the boat,' LaRiviere said. 'She's had some constructive feedback for the team, and the team is listening.'

One of the most accomplished rowers on the team is senior Jody Thomas, who was a Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-American in 2005 and was named to the CRCA All-West Region Second Team in 2004.

'Obviously, Thomas is an important factor, but so are so many other who have stepped it up a notch.' LaRiviere said. 'The nice thing about what's happening right now is that it's not just one person carrying the team. There are many people working hard.'

WSU will need everyone contributing to be successful in the Pacific-10 Conference, which had three teams compete at the national championships last year, including title-winning California.

'Ten years ago, Washington just dominated and everyone else was racing for second,' LaRiviere said. 'But I think there are four to six teams that are racing for first.'

The Cougars will face off against their cross-state rival Washington three times this spring: at the Husky Invitational, April 1 (third varsity, second novice), again on Lake Washington, April 8 and at the Pac-10 Championships, May 14. WSU will also race defending national champion California at the Pac-10 Championships, and will see the Bears at the San Diego Crew Classic, April 1-2 (first and second varsity, first novice).

WSU hosts two regattas at Wawawai Landing just outside of Pullman this spring. Stanford visits the Palouse April 22, and the next week (April 29) the Cougars host Oregon State.

LaRiviere doesn't think she'll have any trouble getting her team motivated for the upcoming season.

'Racing is the fun part,' she said. 'Racing is like going to a wedding when all you've been going to is funerals. It's not hard to get people excited about the racing part.'

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