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Year in Review: Women's Rowing

Jun 29, 2022

STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford women's rowing continued its success as one of the top women's rowing programs in the country during the 2022 campaign, highlighted by earning its second consecutive NCAA runner-up finish and the program's second-ever Pac-12 Championship. 

Creating a Legacy
No. 2 Stanford produced a runner-up finish for the second consecutive season at the 2022 NCAA Championships. Seeking its second NCAA title in school history and first since 2009, Stanford and Texas finished tied with 124 points, but the Longhorns claimed the tiebreaker with a victory in the varsity eight.

Despite entering the final day of competition as the only team to have won all of its races through the semifinals, the Cardinal placed fourth in the varsity four final, second in the second varsity eight and second in the varsity eight.

With its second-place finish, the Cardinal recorded its 13th consecutive top-10 finish at the national championship regatta. 

A First Since 2014
The No. 2 Cardinal won the 2022 Pac-12 Women's Rowing Championships held on Dexter Lake, the program's first conference title since 2014.

Stanford won the title by two-and-a-half points, ending Washington's four-year streak of conference titles. 

The Cardinal started the day off strong and did not let its momentum go throughout all five races of the day. Stanford's novice eight recorded a picture-perfect finish in its race, storming ahead of the Washington Huskies in the final 500 meters to top their foe by .04 seconds. The third varsity eight continued with a decisive victory over the Huskies, earning the team's first 3.5 points of the day and a conference title.

After falling behind in the first 500 meters of the race, the Cardinal's varsity four took over and earned a strong three-second win for the league title over the Huskies. With the win, Stanford took a 1.5-point lead in the team standings. Stanford's second varsity eight earned its third consecutive runner-up finish, falling just short of topping the Huskies. Heading into the final race, the Cardinal trailed Washington by .5 points. 

The Cardinal sealed its first conference championship in eight years with a six-second victory in the varsity eight race, ending its seven-year runner-up finish streak in the category.

With the conference title win, Stanford became the Pac-12's automatic qualifier to the national championship regatta.

Award Sweep 
Stanford women's rowing swept the end-of-year awards from the Pac-12, led by Azja Czajkowski's Athlete of the Year honor. Iris Klok was named the Pac-12 Women's Rowing Newcomer of the Year, while head coach Derek Byrnes was selected as the conference's coach of the year.  Czajkowski, Esther Briz Zamorano, Katelin Gildersleeve and Caroline Ricksen earned All-Pac-12 accolades for their strong performances this season.

Czajkowski was the Cardinal's first Athlete of the Year winner since 2017 and just the team's fifth recipient of the award. The senior joins the elite company of Ruth Narode (2017), Anna Dawson (2014), Elle Logan (2011), Erika Roddy (2009) and Jessi Reel (2008) who won the award during their time in a Stanford uniform. Czajkowski was a staple in the Cardinal's varsity eight boat in 2022, rowing in the varsity eight race at Pac-12's and the NCAA Championships in the eight seat. Her efforts at Pac-12's led Stanford to break its seven-year streak of finishing in second place in the category.

Klok was Stanford's third straight Newcomer of the Year winner, and the program's fourth recipient all-time, joining Mathilda Kitzmann (2021), Kelsey McGinley (2019) and Abby Loughery (2003). She rowed in the team's varsity eight boat three times this season, including during the program's conference-title deciding race at the 2022 Pac-12 Championships and the Cardinal's second-place finish at the 2022 NCAA Championships. 

Byrnes earns his first Pac-12 Coach of the Year honor and becomes just the fourth Stanford coach to be recognized as the conference's best. In his five full seasons on the Farm, he has led his team to five top-three finishes at the conference championship and four top-6 finishes at the NCAA Championships. With the program's victory at this year's conference title chase, Byrnes led the Cardinal its first Pac-12 title since 2014.

Stanford has had at least three all-conference selections in each season since 2014, with Briz Zamorano earning her second award from the Pac-12 after an all-conference nod in 2021.

Five Cardinal Named to All-America Team
Five Cardinal women's rowers were named 2022 Pocock Racing Shells All-America Athletes, the College Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) announced in late July.

Rowers Esther Briz Zamorano, Azja Czajkowski, Katelin Gildersleeve, and Caroline Ricksen each earned first-team honors. Fifth-year Kaitlyn Kynast was honored with second-team accolades. 

Stanford had five rowers recognized as All-America honorees for the fifth-straight year and four-or-more awardees on the first team for just the third time in program history. 

With the announcement, Kynast became a four-time All-America honoree, a feat most recently achieved by Meg Saunders in 2021. Briz Zamorano is now a two-time All-American, while Czajkowski, Gildersleeve, and Ricksen were all lauded for the first time.

CoSIDA Academic All-American
Honoring an elite student-athlete in the classroom and on the water, fifth year Grace McGinley was named a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American in the at-large category.

A Classics and Linguistics major, McGinley earns her first Academic All-America honor. Her 4.00 overall GPA is matched by an impressive career in a Stanford shell. A member of the 2022 Pac-12 Champion squad, McGinley was a part of the Cardinal's conference championship-winning 3V8 boat that earned the program's first-ever title in the category at the league title chase. Academically, McGinley has not only collected NCAA Elite 90 honors (2021) but was also the 2021 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year and has earned CRCA Scholar-Athlete honors in each of her seasons on The Farm.

McGinley graduated as a triple major at Stanford in Comparative Literature, Classics and Film and Media Studies.

Scholar Athlete of the Year
Stanford senior coxswain Nicole Pofcher was named the 2022 Pac-12 Women's Rowing Scholar-Athlete of the Year.  Pofcher is the Cardinal's sixth Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, following Grace McGinley (2021), Naomi Cornman (2015), Ali Fauci (2014), Mariele Higgins (2012), and Erika Roddy (2011). 

The Winnetka, Ill. native is an International Relations major with a Sustainability minor and carries a cumulative 4.057 GPA. 

Pofcher is an accomplished rower, most recently leading the Cardinal's varsity four boat to a Pac-12 Championship and a fourth-place finish at the 2022 NCAA Championships. In 2021, she earned first-team All-America honors after coxing the Cardinal's varsity eight to second place at the 2021 Pac-12 Championship and a runner-up finish at the 2021 NCAA Championship.  She is a three-time CRCA Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll honoree. 

On dry land, Pofcher is an active member of the Stanford community, spending her time as a Stanford tour guide, a member of the Stanford Senior Class cabinet, and a peer advisor for the International Relations department. She also executed the photography efforts for Stanford's Sierra Camp, an alumni family camp just outside South Lake Tahoe during the summer of 2019, and will once again lead the efforts in 2022.  After graduation, Pofcher will start as a full-time Business Analyst at McKinsey and Company in San Francisco. 

Program Record Academic Prowess
The Collegiate Rowing Coaches of America (CRCA) announced program-record 19 members of the women's rowing team have been named National Scholar-Athletes, excelling both on the water and in the classroom.

In order to qualify for the honor, athletes needed to maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher, be of at least sophomore standing academically, and row in an NCAA or IRA boat for a minimum of 75 percent of the season's races.

Earning the honor for the Cardinal were Annabelle Bachmann, Belle Battistoni, Lucy Black, Julia Braz, Lettie Cabot, Natalie Clemans, Caia Costello, Azja Czajkowski, Taylor English, Katelin Gildersleeve, Mathilda Kitzmann, Beckie Leigh, Grace McGinley, Kelsey McGinley, Rachel Miller, Brie Perry, Nicole Pofcher, Caroline Ricksen and Kieran Wallace. 


Individual Accolades
Derek Byrnes
- Pac-12 Coach of the Year
- CRCA Region 5 Coach of the Year
- CRCA Region 5 Coaching Staff of the Year
Annabelle Bachmann
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Belle Battistoni
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Lucy Black
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Julia Braz
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Esther Briz Zamorano
- All-Pac-12 First Team
- Pocock Racing Shells All-America First Team
Lettie Cabot
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Natalie Clemans
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Caia Costello
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Azja Czajkowski
- Pac-12 Athlete of the Year
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
- All-Pac-12 First Team
- Pocock Racing Shells All-America First Team
Taylor English
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Katelin Gildersleeve
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
- All-Pac-12 First Team
- Pocock Racing Shells All-America First Team
Mathilda Kitzmann
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Iris Klok
- Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year
Kaitlyn Kynast
- Pocock Racing Shells All-America Second Team
Beckie Leigh
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Grace McGinley
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
- CoSIDA Academic All-American
Kelsey McGinley
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Rachel Miller
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Brie Perry
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
Nicole Pofcher
- Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
- SAB Awards- Block S Honors
Caroline Ricksen
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete
- All-Pac-12 First Team
- Pocock Racing Shells All-America First Team
Kieran Wallace
- CRCA Scholar-Athlete