Press release from Cal Poly Humboldt Athletics:
Cal Poly Humboldt Women’s Rowing ended their season holding an NCAA Division II Rowing National Championship trophy with a confetti filled sky from Cooper River Park in New Jersey. For the third time in program history, the Lumberjacks were crowned National Champions. Humboldt has won titles in 2012, 2014, and now 2023. Humboldt swept the day in very impressive fashion, winning both the Fours Grand Final (12 points) and Eights Grand Final (18 points) to earn a perfect 30 points. It is the third time in the last four regattas that the winning team has finished with a perfect score.
“I could not be more proud of our Women’s Rowing team,” said President Jackson of Cal Poly Humboldt. “A great coaching staff led our outstanding student-athletes to the National Championship! The Cal Poly Humboldt campus, alumni, and friends applaud this outcome, a true legacy in Athletics.”
The ‘Jacks knew going into the day that they had their work cut out for them as they had to take down their rival in powerhouse University of Central Oklahoma, who also won both of their heats on Friday. UCO won three straight national championships from 2018-2021 (no champion was named in 2020). Although UCO has had a lot of recent success, the Lumberjacks proved they were the better team today.
Kicking the day off was the Fours Grand Final at 11:12 AM EST. The Humboldt V4+ lineup consisted of: Emily Daniels (Coxswain), Sarah Lorenzini (1), Kylie Mosley (2), Chloe Pieper-Wasem (3), and Gwendolyn Sutton (4).
After placing third at the GNAC Championships just a couple weeks ago, Humboldt knew they had some adjustments to make before the NCAA Championships. With all GNAC schools in the Fours Grand Final, it was a rematch of the GNAC Championships with UCO, Seattle Pacific and Western Washington. Head coach Matt Weise praised both of his assistant coaches in Ashley Donnell and Patrick Hyland for their efforts in preparing the Varsity 4+ crew accordingly.
The Humboldt V4 boat trailed UCO almost the entire race in a very tight race, but in the final sprint the ‘Jacks pulled away to take a near six-second victory in the Fours Grand Final. They finished with a time of 8:06.762.
The Eights Grand Final was next at Noon EST. The Humboldt V8+ lineup consisted of: Sonja Scollon (Cox), Malia Seeley (1), Alyssa Paynton (2), Gabriella Griffin (3), Dana Foley (4), Cassidy Hollenbeck (5), Kealey Scott (6), Elizabeth Walters (7), and Molly Urtz (8).
The dominance of this crew continued as they went the entire year without falling to a Division II opponent, and nothing changed for them on Saturday. Although the ‘Jacks started less than one second behind UCO at the first 500m mark, they increased their stroke rate and completely took over the race.
Humboldt cruised to victory in the Eights Grand Final, finishing with a time of 7:15.143. UCO crossed the finish line in second place and almost five seconds behind the Lumberjacks.
Head coach Matt Weise took over the program in July of 2020 and didn’t have a season in his first year due to the pandemic. In two years as the leader, Weise has shifted the tides of the rowing program. Earning GNAC Coach of the Year just last week, Weise created a National Championship roster and led the ‘Jacks to their first title since 2014.
“This group kept their heads today, they executed the plan and didn’t change anything or try to do too much on a bigger stage,” said Weise. “We talk about doing all the work all the time. The dark mornings, the cold rain, it’s all paid off. I’m really proud of what they accomplished today and proud of our great coaching staff as well.”
Weise also spoke to his appreciation of the support that the team has received this season and what it means to him, stating, “This result is a team effort. We have had nothing but support for the entire team, staff, administration, and community members. For me personally, it is an unbelievable feeling as a coach. I have been a coach nearly 30 years and this is the first National Championship I’ve been apart of. Today was spectacular, it was inspiring.”
The ‘Jacks have checked a number of boxes this year including: the 2023 NCAA Division II Rowing National Championship, a GNAC Varsity 8+ title, Runner-Up at the GNAC Championships, 2023 Coach of the Year in Matt Weise, 2023 Rower of the Year in Dana Foley, 2023 Coxswain of the Year in Sonja Scollon, three First-Team All-GNAC selections (Molly Urtz, Alyssa Paynton, Malia Seeley), and 12 rowers being named to the GNAC All-Academic team (A student-athlete must be of sophomore athletic eligibility or greater, must be in their second season competing at the nominating institution, must be on the roster for the full season and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or greater).
Cal Poly Humboldt now has six NCAA championships in school history. Women’s Rowing holds three titles (2012, 2014, 2023), Softball holds two titles (1999, 2008), and Cross Country has one title (1980).
The Cal Poly Humboldt Women’s Rowing team returns to Arcata on Sunday at 3:00 PM. We encourage anyone who wishes to greet the National Champions to show up and celebrate this great accomplishment at the airport. For more information on Cal Poly Humboldt Women’s Rowing, please visit humboldtathletics.com and follow us on all social media platforms.