Oregon club rowing takes gold and silver at regionals
The University of Oregon club rowing team placed first and second at its regional championship in Sacramento, April 25-26.
More than 30 rowers competed in four varsity races and had their best finish in a decade. The women’s lightweight four-person boat took gold, while the men’s pair took silver. Two novice teams made the semifinal race and one competed in the grand final.
Many powerhouse programs across the west coast including Stanford, USC and Cal attended the regatta.
Senior Caellagh Morrissey said, “Especially with that kind of intense competition, it was a big deal for us to show so well.”
Morrissey’s women’s lightweight boat won its race by a huge margin. It pulled away from the pack only a quarter way through the 2,000 meter race and crossed the finish line in just over seven minutes. The women earned national rankings votes for their impressive performance.
“That was super exciting for us,” Morrissey said. “It goes to show how far the club team has come towards really competing.”
The men’s varsity boat started with four rowers, but one became injured just two weeks prior to regionals. Because there are no three-man boats, they downsized to two men and adjusted for doubles competition. Despite minimal preparation time, the men’s pair managed to place second.
Oregon’s strong finish at regionals was self-motivated. The better they finish in tournaments, the more funding they receive thus more races they can enter.
Proceeds from club rowing’s first inaugural Million Meter Challenge on February 15 were used to fund the trip to regionals. Members of the community sponsored members of the team, who collectively rowed 1,109,561 meters on 28 ergometers in just under four hours.
The Million Meter Challenge was one of numerous fundraisers club rowing held this year to raise money for new equipment and tournament expenses. In a separate event, New York Times best-selling author Dan Brown came to UO to discuss his book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The proceeds benefited club rowing.
“This sport can get really expensive,” Morrissey said. “We want to make sure we keep the costs down and make it accessible to everybody.”
Morrissey never rowed before she joined the club team her freshman year at Oregon. Her parents met while competing on the rowing team at University of the Pacific. She figured she may never get another chance to participate.
“It’s definitely been the defining feature of my college experience,” Morrissey said. “It’s a lot of people who don’t all share the same interests outside of rowing, but can come together in one boat and work together to achieve something.”
The Oregon club rowing team has grown in numbers each of the past several years. On May 21, more than 30 Ducks will fly to Georgia to race in their highly-anticipated national tournament.
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