Varsity Eight Earns Bid To NCAA Championships

May 21, 2002

PULLMAN, Wash. - For the first time in six years, the Washington State women's rowing program will head to the national championships as the Cougars' varsity eight boat garnered a bid to the NCAA Women's Rowing Championship at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind., May 31-June 2.

When the Cougars (No. 16 in the May 15 USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association NCAA Division I Varsity Eight Coaches Poll) take to the Indiana waters, it will mark the first appearance for the program at the national championships since 1996. The Cougars - which head into nationals after a third place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference Championships, May 19 - first race will be in one of three heats that are scheduled from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Eastern, Friday, May 31.

The Cougar varsity eight boat consists of Sarah Bankston, Gunilla Grafnings, Erin Patterson, Emily Tribe, Catherine Lortie, Corrie McGrath, Beth Rodford, Emily Rains and Carolyn Oury.

'I am very excited,' WSU Head Coach Tammy Crawford said of receiving the at-large bid. 'I think that we are deserving. I feel that every time this boat gets on the water and races it discovers something and becomes a little faster each time. With each race they grow a little more confident.'

Washington State earned one of four at-large bids reserved for varsity-eight boats and is one of five Pac-10 schools to earn a spot in the championships. The other three at-large bids were granted to Cornell, Notre Dame and Southern California. The 12 schools earning team bids, which consist of the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four boats, went to No. 1 Washington, No. 2 Brown, along with California, Harvard, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Princeton, Stanford, Syracuse, Virginia, and Yale.

'I believe Washington and Brown are legitimately the two fastest crews in the country,' Crawford said. 'I think those are the two teams that people are watching but I also think the other boats are not that far off.

'The exciting things about the NCAA's is there isn't any playing-it-by-ear during the races,' Crawford added. 'It is guts out every time. It is a very high caliber of racing and I think that we are prepared for it.'

In addition to the NCAA bid, the duo of Grafnings and McGrath earned All-Pacific-10 Conference honors, announced at the conclusion of the conference rowing championships. The all-conference selections marked McGrath's second consecutive selection for the junior from Marysville, Wash., while it was the first nod for Grafnings, a native of Siljansnas, Sweden.

'They have really done a lot to help the varsity eight boat achieve the level it has,' Crawford said of Grafnings and McGrath. 'It would have been nice to get more recognition because they have not done it single-handily but they are certainly deserving of all-conference recognition.'
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