UCO heads to National Championships

UCO Ahtletics
Chris Brannick

SARASOTA, Fla. – Central Oklahoma heads to the NCAA Division II Rowing Championships this week looking to earn the title of the nation’s best. Prelim racing begins Friday morning with the national championships scheduled for Saturdaymorning at Nathan Benderson Park.

Central Oklahoma is one of six schools sending its squad to Florida for the national finals. The Bronchos will be joined by Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Thomas Jefferson (Pa.), Mercyhurst (Pa.), Seattle Pacific and Western Washington.

Teams will race both their Varsity 8+ and Varsity 4+ boats Friday morning, with two heats scheduled for each. Central Oklahoma will race in the first Eights heat at 11:24 a.m. (Eastern) Friday against Seattle Pacific and Mercyhurst. The other three schools will follow at 11:36 a.m.

After the first Fours heat scheduled for 11:48 a.m., the Bronchos will go in the second Fours heat at 12 p.m. against Mercyhurst and Western Washington.

The two winners of each heat in both the Eights and Fours will advance to Saturday’s Grand Finals. The remaining four boats will return Friday evening for consolation racing. The Eights repechage is scheduled for 5:24 p.m. and the Fours will follow at 5:36 p.m. Top two teams in both the Eights and Fours will advance to Saturday’s Grand Finals and the third- and fourth-place boats in both will move to Saturday’s Petite Finals.

Central Oklahoma enters nationals ranked No. 5 in the country. The top six teams in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association rankings are the same six heading to Sarasota, Florida. UCO is the top-rated team in the NCAA’s West Region rankings.

UCO has seen half the field competing this weekend at one point or another this Spring. The Bronchos welcomed Seattle Pacific to Oklahoma City in March for a tri-dual with Kansas. The Bronchos finished in front SPU in the eights in two races and the fours split in two races down the Oklahoma River.

In Oregon earlier this month, SPC edged out Central for second place in the GNAC Championships in the eights, but the Bronchos once again beat Seattle Pacific in the fours.

Central Oklahoma also got a glimpse of Embry-Riddle, an aeronautical school in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the SIRA Championships last month. UCO’s eights were five spots in front of ERU in prelim racing and three spots ahead in the SIRA semifinals. The Broncho fours alternated in three races against ERU, finishing behind them in the prelims, in front in the semis, and one spot behind them in the finals.

UCO’s only look at Western Washington came two weeks ago in Oregon at the GNAC Championships. The Bronchos were third to WWU’s first-place boat in the V8+ championship and the two flipped in the V4+ championship with Central Oklahoma taking top honors in front of Western Washington’s third-place boat.

Central Oklahoma has become a familiar face at the NCAA Division II Rowing Championships. The Bronchos have made an appearance in each of the last nine championships since 2012 with no event in 2020. UCO sent its Varsity 8+ boat solo in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and has sent both its boats since 2015.

UCO as a team finished national runners-up in 2016 and 2017 before winning it all in 2018, 2019, and 2021. The Broncho eights finished national runners-up in 2016 and have won the V8+ title each year since 2017. The Central fours were runners-up in 2016 and 2018 and national champions in 2019 and 2021.

NCAA Division II Rowing Championships
Sarasota, Fla.
Nathan Benderson Park
Friday’s Races
(All times Eastern)

11:24 a.m. – Eights Heat 1 (Central Oklahoma, Seattle Pacific, Mercyhurst)
11:36 a.m. – Eights Heat 2 (Western Washington, Jefferson, Embry-Riddle)
11:48 a.m. – Fours Heat 1 (Seattle Pacific, Jefferson, Embry-Riddle)
12 p.m. – Fours Heat 2 (Central Oklahoma, Mercyhurst, Western Washington)
5:24 p.m. – Eights Repechage
5:36 p.m. – Fours Repechage

Saturday’s Races

11 a.m. – Fours Petite Final
11:12 a.m. – Fours Grand Final
11:48 a.m. – Eights Petite Final
12 p.m. – Eights Grand Final
1 p.m. – Awards Ceremony

(Grand Finals award first through fourth place; Petite Final awards fifth and sixth place)

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